I saw Vera Lutter’s work in a touring exhibition Alchemy at Harewood House in 2006. The exhibition presented the work of about a dozen contemporary photographers concerned with exploring the essential properties of the medium: space, time, light and chemical reaction. Alchemy suggested the transformation of the ordinary through the photographic process.
Lutter’s work is monumental in conception, execution and outcome. The image above of Battersea Power Station was made using an adapted shipping container to create an enormous camera obscura. The tiny aperture needed to grasp the detail in sharp focus means exposures can take days or even weeks. So the artist may end up inhabiting and moving around inside the camera itself, although her presence is undetectable in the final image.
The final image consists of a huge black and white inverted negative on paper; turned back the right way up for exhibition purposes. It appears to show a scene, but the recording is deceptive; all movement and actual traces of reality have been lost. The monumental vision remaining to confront the viewer diminishes and displaces any sense of normality. There is however a sense of stillness and simplicity which is quite compelling. A majestic, extraordinary artwork.