Lukas Felzmann: Waters in Between
January 15 - February 27, 2011
Curated by Piro Patton
In the center of the Sacramento Valley two rivers, the Feather and Sacramento, flank several wetlands and marshes called the Sutter and Colusa Sinks. Much of this land has been drained and become some of the richest agricultural land for fruit orchards and various grains and rice. The photographer Lukas Felzmann has been drawn to these marshlands and especially the role water has taken to shape and transform the landscape. His new book from Lars Muller, Waters In Between is an empirical archive or as he describes the collection, “a sort of poetry of ruins.”
Constructed as part methodic examination and part meditation, Felzmann and his 5×7 camera describe a landscape both naturally formed and manipulated by man. It is a transitional space upon which people have built homes and their presence has turned naturally occurring floods historically common to the area into “disasters.” The attempt to control water through canals and underground systems speak of a cultural change and the power of economy on the area. There is a similar feeling behind this work to the moment when you find out Polanski’s Chinatown is really about corruption controlling water.
Felzmann’s camera is stylistically varied in ways that are refreshing. This book is not just a collection of the formally rigorous but playful with occasional panoramics and exchange between black and white and color. Individually the photographs are well made but it is his sequencing that make this project as interesting as any dealing with place that I have seen in a long while. Short poetic text pieces by John Berger and Angelus Silesius compliment Felzmann’s work are interspersed throughout.
Lukas Felzmann was born and educated in Zürich Switzerland, and holds a MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. He has taught photography at the California College of the Arts, the San Francisco Art Institute and at Stanford University since 1993. His photographs have been shown in Europe, Egypt, Columbia and the United States. Today he is a Lecturer of Art in the Art & Art History Department of Stanford University.