Alter Ego Director’s Choice Philomena Famulok is a German photographer whose intimate and macabre photographs are imbued with subconscious thoughts. Famulok creates personal self-portraits that arise out of her need to work through certain emotions or thoughts. “I think particularly darker emotions, dreams, thoughts, and memories are searching for an expression because often they are unwanted and repressed in our everyday life, even though they are an important part of life and identity.” Famulok’s allows these darker elements of her subconscious to emerge with the aid of dramatic lighting and digital manipulation.
Famulok’s winning image, Ships on the High Sea, typifies her style. Devoid of context and accompanied by an enigmatic title, the viewer is confronted only with gesture, shadow, image grain, and blur. When looking at these images, the viewer glimpses Famulok’s dark and inchoate inner thoughts. The minimalist backgrounds strip the images of context, freeing the viewer from any particular story that would detract or qualify the images’ emotive subject matter. The work has a cinematic style reminiscent of film stills and the German Expressionist movement. Unusual compositions and angles shrouded in extreme shadows make for a haunting, fragmented moments.
Ships on the High Sea
Famulok’s process is guided by her feelings, dreams, and thoughts, but she also finds her muse in music and the written word. Fittingly, short versus of poetry are a source of inspiration. With a book of Hilde Domin’s poetry always within reach and a travel companion, one can easily see the connection between the mechanics of poetry and Famulok’s work. Like Domin’s poetry, her images are sparse, leave room for interpretation, and say a great deal with a simple gesture or single prop. Famulok’s images are short poetic versus in themselves.
The Withered Twig
Though Famulok has yet to determine where her work fits into the current art scene, she looks at artistic success in separate ideas of creative and financial fulfillment. Creatively, there is a strong sense of achievement and contentedness when a concept has been seen through to its execution and when another person is able to view one of her images and finds something of their own within her personal picture.
Beyond that I'm of course happy if one of my pictures makes a place in a competition or is exhibited, or if I can sell one of my pictures. After all it is validation of my work and it encourages me to continue to be creative. And to be creative is what I love to do most.
The Middle of a Dream
Alter Ego is on view through August 31, 2013.