THE DAVID COLLECTION
I’ve climbed to the top of pyramids and crawled to the antechamber of eternity.
I’ve slept at the foot of mount Ararat and awoke where paradise once was lost.
I’ve seen magic in the eyes of holy men coming from the desert.
I’ve listened to mystics, their prophecies spoken through leaves in a cup and I’ve heard blind men reciting while Nubian boys served sugared tea.
I’ve travelled with gods and with goats and stood on the walls of crusaders’ castles, a lion off a broken vessel in my hand.
I’ve seen ancient cities at the bottom of the ocean and passed through Cilician Gates in the footsteps of Alexander the Great towards my own defeat.
I’ve wandered the garden of the righteous and I’ve crossed the fields of the nephilim.
I’ve seen the sun set over Epidauros and I’ve been scorched by the light from Pharos.
I’ve tamed the strength of wild horses and that of my heart’s desire, challenged my body to the full but never my soul.
I’ve been sentenced to life in the prison of religion, and escaped across borders to freedom, that turned out to be a no man’s land.
I’ve hitchhiked towards Babylon while believers fled at the rumour of its downfall and I’ve burned my bible at the feet of its whores, just to keep them warm.
I’ve felt passion’s heat and caught glimpses of joy, happiness and peace.
I’ve had visions of life as it was meant to be in the shadow of temples’ ruins crying through torn curtains of empty inner sanctuaries.
I’ve broken every covenant, every promise to let myself be broken in the hope of a possible I AM to appear.
I’ve lived as many places as the number of letters in the alphabet and nearly as many lives.
I’ve watched death come and new life coming and how my own life had been betrayed by those who raised me.
I’ve forsaken love for the sake of love, trusting it to be the road to travel.
I’ve believed in everyone and lost faith in everything along the way.
I’ve lost a little sense of direction with every step taken and little by little come to realise, I’ve never been home.
- CLAUS ROHLAND
Paraphrasing the famous author of Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, who said that ‘there are no foreign lands.
It is the traveller only who is foreign’, the exhibition title points to the fact that the only truly exotic elements in distant lands are the ones visiting them. Now, decades of patination have transformed photographs from Claus Rohland’s road trips in the Middle East, making them genuinely unique and - in their own way - emphatically exotic works.
The exhibited images are based on photographs taken on two different trips undertaken by Rohland in 1975 and 1977; the former to Egypt, the latter to Turkey, Iraq and Syria. These are snapshots of everyday life. With his keenly honed feel for big issues reflected in small things, Rohland has photographed whatever happened to catch and appeal to his eye. He did not go for the familiar, famous monuments, opting instead for momentary glimpses of the unknown.
The examples are as diverse as they are numerous. In Egypt, he has captured a fleeting second as a densely crowded boat disembarks somewhere on the Nile. The sun’s rays are reflected in the water and in the camera lens, and one pair of eyes among many meet the photographer’s gaze. In Syria, a piece of meat on a hook in a drowsy butcher’s shop has been immortalised.
Now, these photographs have become works of art. While in storage in a Copenhagen cellar, they have undergone a metamorphosis, prompting Rohland to once again seize the moment. What was once a slide show intended for friends and acquaintances has been transformed by humidity and fluctuating temperatures. The changes, augmented by judicious enlargement and croppings, have turned the pictures into mirages and dreamlike visions. Welcome to another world!
- PETER WANDEL