Like her colleagues during the Baroque and Renaissance, Anna Ekman is fascinated by rebuses, images that conceal a meaning that may be read or coded.

To underline the fundamental mysteriousness of life – that every situation is both in the present and carries references that point beyond itself – Anna Ekman employs analogue photography for her stagings. The same approach lead to the development of linear perspective. Renaissance artists wanted to make miracles and angels believable by placing them in spaces organized by geometric optical linear perspective. The camera, with its inbuilt linear perspective, may be regarded as a result of the ensuring paradigm.

However, the camera adds something. That is, the ambivalence between the viewer and the viewed. Anna Ekman explores this interaction, for example in her work A Place of Echoes (Ali and Tofan at Huvudsta Strand, Solna, Sweden 2009), which is based on double exposures.

Sometimes Anna Ekman refers explicitly to the Baroque, as in her photographic series The Black Pond (2010), where she reuses Caravaggio’s reading of the ancient myth of Narcissus, as well as the artist’s manner of working with chiaroscuro. In another work, Black Mirror, 2009, she relates to the Baroque artist Carlo Saraceni’s painting Landscape with Salmacis and Hermaphroditus.

Anna Ekman feels attracted to the insecure world of the Baroque, full of shadows, mystery and death. She writes about her work: “The motifs are located in the borderland of, and are absorbed by, a darkness that can represent whatever we wish: an abyss, an infinity, a reflecting water surface, where the luminous sections in the images become light islands upon which we can rest our gaze, representing that which exists, that which is illuminated and thus is.”

The Spanish Baroque poet Calderón described life as a dream. Dreams also appear to be profoundly significant – but coded. The meaning is always other than that which is obvious one. Anna Ekman employs the most reality-bound of all imagery techniques, analogue photography, in order to demonstrate the dream likeness of life.

Gertrud Sandqvist

Translation: Hans Olsson