Photo Basel 2016

Martin Mlecko

Mlecko is an investigative artist working in a range of media, who is continually seeking the inherent beauty in objects. His photographic oeuvre is a collection of series without itself being serial in structure. He is both traveller and observer, sometimes also seeker, whose creative products defy relegation into the clearly defined pigeon holes of the art industry. Among his art forms are large-format arrangements and small-scale documentation, both representational and abstract. His photos are put on show not so much as observations of reality. They are more expressions of moods: they have their origins in personal experience, in the found objects in his close environment.

Abstract colour field photographs ask for the visual basic conditions of the medium itself, while at the same time they explore scenic depth, where we, in a contemplative mood can enjoy to drift. Martin Mlecko perhaps never is more of a photographer than at this moment examining the negative film for traces, which has a new and quite different, namely a picturesque trail, in addition to the wanted detained.

The two series entitled Prelude and Je ne sais quoi could alternatively be named Eros and Thanatos, which in psychoanalytical terms mean life energy and death: the beginning and the end. They are references to the beginning and the end of (analogue) photography. While the photographs in Prelude are the physical beginnings of a film, in Je ne sais quoi they show only the cinematic essence – effacing the subject. Je ne sais quoi shows the impossibility of ultimately defining an aesthetic object in terms of language.

Private Libraries save individual secrets and identities. They are archives of personal developments and interests and always a statement of the intellectual state of their owner. Martin Mlecko searches for these libraries, book cases and bookshelves in the flats of differently orientated people. He photographs them on-the-spot from various angles and distances, turns to a certain detail at a later point in time and collages ultimately pictures from his memory, pointing out the uniqueness of each individual library. The series Evidenz (evidence) issues the textual and aesthetic
interaction of stored and collected books. It is giving hints on the private library as a maybe slowly disappearing cultural possession, of its sometimes also unimposing beauty. Furthermore, it sometimes affiliates with its role as a collage of life itself. Aside from any presence of symbolic motivations or continual professional usage, we also surround ourselves with books in an explicitly visible manner because they are clearly capable, among other things, of becoming the bearers of intensely personalised transfusion or enrichment on a level beyond that of their actual,
finally immaterial content. This notion is exactly what Martin Mlecko examines when he visits various people in order to photograph their greatly divergent bookshelves.

Martin Mlecko was born in 1951 in Essen and lives in Berlin, Germany.