Beat poet Gary Snyder talks about the Buddhist “experience” that cannot be fully expressed with words. He says:

“It’s an inner order of experience that is not available to language. Language has no words to talk about it. When you put it into words you lose it; so it’s better not to talk about it. . . . The true poem is walking that edge between what can be said and that which cannot be said. . . . Haiku has something of this quality. The haiku of Basho and his immediate disciples have the quality of the poem pushed as far as one can push it. ‘The words stop but the meaning goes on.’”

For me, the photography installations of Maria L. Felixmueller share similar aesthetics and goals. The photographs themselves are not necessarily remarkable (although each can captivate you and surprise you if given enough time). What is most powerful about Felixmueller’s work is the way in which she installs and displays the photographs. She creates juxtapositions to jar the viewer out of the everyday commonplace experience depicted in the photographs themselves, and transports the viewer into moments of revery, delight, confusion, or pleasant befuddlement.

Her installations often include clumps of framed photographs casually stacked in corners, overlapping and obscuring one another. She also creates temporary groupings and sequences of images glued directly to the walls of the exhibition space or gallery — when the show is over, that musical grouping of images disappears forever.

She writes very complex theoretical papers (in German) about the kinds of experience and visual language she is pursuing. A rough translation of the title of a paper she wrote in 2008 is “Productive de-rangement of gathering and astonishment”.

She writes:

“The main focus of my work does not lie in the photographic techniques employed for the individual image; instead the focus lies in the examination of the connections between complex sequences of individual existence. . . .

"By sorting, exchanging, rejecting, adding and collocating a large pool of seemingly accidental moments, I intend to compose a narrative that often holds multiple layers of meaning for the viewer. As a result of the images’ juxtaposition, the attentive viewer resorts to personal memories and experiences. The incentive and aim of this work lies in discovering something amongst the images and their juxtaposition which is not as such present in the room."

Be sure to check out her website for an interesting visual and intellectual experience, too.

— Jim Casper