Préface Sonia Voss
First edition of 300 copies
17,5 X 24 cm
Soft cover with flaps
This is no landscape, but rather a frontal view, sealed off, without any horizon or vanishing point. Only a tiny corner of bleached sky seems to allow a breath of air into the hermetic space. This works as a two-dimensional formal construct dividing the frame defined by the photographer into segments. Far from receiving an invitation to broaden or deepen its focus, our eye seems almost to run up against the barrier of this wall. The territory we explore in this book is that urban and sub-urban zone of cities in the north of France. It is also a pictorial space: that of landscape photography, inherited from painting but transformed by the scrambling of codes carried out by the young Americans Stephen Shore, Henry Wessel and six of their contemporaries in the historic exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape. Mounted in 1975 at the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, this watershed exhibition altered the imaginary space of the landscape. From that point forward, the landscape could not be dissociated from the imprint that man left upon it.
The photographs of Thomas Klotz have a dramatic quality. They are invested with a narrative potential, tenuous but undeniably there. The structures we see are like theatrical scenery: inanimate but charged with a latent presence. The story he is telling is by no means a grand and comprehensive one; Klotz’s views belong rather to the order of the micro-appropriation, the taking of a common place – a common place in the elevated sense lent to it by the American photographers cited above, who helped us see the strange in the everyday, the extraordinary in the trivial.
Thomas Klotz was born and raised in the North of France. He has known its landscapes, experienced them, perhaps become inured to them before leaving them behind and moving to Paris – which made it possible for him to return to his native countryside and rediscover it as a visitor, as a familiar but freshly surprised observer. This balance between deep knowledge and curiosity keeps his photographs from either indulging in the picturesque or submitting to the systematic. As rigorous as this series of photographs is – in laying out before us a series of façades, one after another, which intersect with a few fleeting glances at some remains of nature or more rarely yet with the glimpse of an interior, to produce a cold mood that could almost be called despair – the conceptual framework never appears to have defined a priori the visual perspective of the image.
"Everything is a sign of a human floating caged in an overurbanity. We track down the residues, the rubbish, the walls left as Dadaist constructions. Between faded forms and haunted shadows we hang a forgotten crucifix that has become part of a fortuitous composition of household products. The sudden strangeness of a factory, of a barrier or of a wire store, ordinary human fabrications captured by the singular eye of Thomas Klotz forces us to look differently at the vivid vestiges of modernity. " - Claire Berest, Photo