Michael Somoroff’s Absence of Subject is a poignant homage to the legendary photographer August Sander’s monumental work People of the 20th Century (Menschen des 20 Jarhunderts). It is a thoughtful and passionate meditation on memory, imagination, human resilience and creativity.
The originality in this body of work is based on Somoroff’s keen sense of observation and interpretation. Absence of Subject lets you revisit August Sander’s work allowing you to understand the richness of Sander’s intent. In each of August Sander’s pictures Michael Somoroff has erased the subject retaining only the background. The unprecedented digital revolution has brought the potential for manipulation into focus. Through the use of software Somoroff has taken out what we have always believed to be the “essential element” — the subject, the portrait. The backgrounds once a secondary fragment, now become the primary motivator. They have now been translated into new fully conceived images that rightfully belong to the “post-modern” idiom.
The exhibition Absence of Subject is a perfect example of a delicate balance of alchemy and inquiry. Conceptually and humanistically oriented each of Somoroff’s images demonstrates the persuasive power and aesthetic of August Sander’s oeuvre even without the human subject. This is not photography as we are accustomed to but more about the idea of creativity. The images embrace chance and acceptance. What Somoroff celebrates is to establish that post-modern art isn’t dislocated, but something with roots, tradition and continuity.
—Diana Edkins, co-curator of the exhibition