Himmel ohne Wolken

Edgar Leciejewski’s series 'Aves' defies the attempt to assign it to an unequivocal systematic place. Located at the intersection between art and natural science, the artist’s scanographs might also be found under the headword ‘ornithology’. Perhaps we can compare them to the illustrations in eighteenth-century encyclopedic works whose draftsmen, rather than merely recording what they actually saw, interpreted their object, emphasizing, correcting, or idealizing features they believed were important. With the invention of photography, science turned its back on its illustrators, thinking it now had an instrument at its disposal that let nature speak for itself, registering instead of interpreting.

The photographic lens was to serve the analysis of scientific objects as a guarantor of objectivity, registering in order to compare, classify, and archive. The scanographic procedure on which the series 'Aves' is based is fundamentally comparable to the photogram, the direct imprint of an object positioned atop light-sensitive material, considered to be a vera icon of nature, authentic and objective, unaffected by artistic interpretation and creative intervention. Edgar Leciejewski, however, flouts the expectation of objectivity people bring to his medium, leading us back to the way illustrators worked: he arranges, corrects, interprets.

In so doing, he abandons important features that distinguish the genres in favor of aesthetic decisions. The postures of song thrush, siskin, and great titmouse, for instance, hide the shapes of their beaks, and physical proportions, which the photogram renders unaltered, are virtually impossible to tell from Leciejewski’s scanographs. Yet whereas the photogram is compelled to renounce the representation of surface structures, the scanographs depict these same structures with striking physical intensity and acuity.

With texts by Christin Krause, Edgar Leciejewski and Carsten Tabel.