Dietmar Busse: Fauna and Flora
Fauna and Flora #6 (Black madonna, 2010)
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It’s rare to encounter a body of work as wholly original as Dietmar Busse’s extraordinary series, Fauna and Flora. An amalgamation of photography and painting, the pieces in the series manifest a beauty that occasionally veers into dark, dreamlike realms.
Busse, 46, grew up as an only child on a small farm in Northern Germany and traveled widely in Europe and Morocco as a teenager before settling in Madrid, where he became interested in photography.
“Making art for me is like being on the road, except that the [artistic] journey is an inward one,” he recently told TIME. The work in Fauna and Flora, meanwhile, mirrors that travelers’ sensibility, emerging from a process Busse describes — like a road trip — as “full of surprises and spontaneous decisions.”
In 1991 Busse relocated to New York, working initially as a studio assistant. By 1995 he was receiving commissions as a fashion photographer for magazines like Paper, Interview and Visionaire and portraiture for the New York Times Magazine, Harpers Bazaar and more.
Today Busse remains very much in the analog world, shooting film and making his own darkroom prints — a hands-on process that helped release him from the constraints of traditional picture-making.
“About six years ago,” he recalls, “I made a ‘mistake’ in the darkroom and double-exposed some paper. I pursued these double and triple exposures, mixing images from my homeland with portraits of people in New York. I liked bringing these two worlds together.”
Busse began painting (with photographic developer) on his prints. The resulting images so artfully meld the otherwise quite distinct media that they appear to coalesce — creating, in a sense, a new medium.
“There are all kinds of variables when you draw on the prints before they are fixed, and it’s a relief not to worry about spots or imperfect exposures anymore. I embrace the ‘accidents’, the unforeseen, the spontaneous. I never quite know where things will lead me: it’s like an expedition into unknown territory. There is a lot more freedom there, and that is more reflective of who I am as a person than trying for a perfect print.”