Tuesday, 3 January 2017

"What emerges over time from this immersion in place in Koenning’s practice is photography as a process of worlding. In The Crossing there is a sense in which each photograph offers a miniature portrait of a natural world on the cusp of disappearance. At the same time, there is ambiguity at play, especially in Koenning’s arresting images of fish and bird life hovering between states of appearance and disappearance, or processes of emergence and withdrawal. In Howqua #1 (Falsche Gezeiten, 2015), a tortoise shimmers in bioluminescent white light and appears as if plummeting into a dark void or falling through stars. Might this be the last tortoise, hurtling toward extinction or, more optimistically, can this sole tortoise be read as a symbol of species survival and thus an emblem of hope? Some images draw their titles from the work of Michel Serres and, indeed, The Crossing echoes the French philosopher’s call for “a natural contract of symbiosis and reciprocity.” As an embedded and deeply personal response to a transitioning ecology, Koenning’s images also embody what Zylinska terms a “post-anthropocentric ethics of expanded obligations.” This is ethics as “a way of taking responsibility, by the human, for various sorts of thickenings of the universe, across different scales, and of responding to the tangled mesh of everyday connections and relations."