REACTIONS TO LAST WHISPERS:
"A very haunting and singular experience.”
—Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker magazine
and author of The Rest Is Noise
"I sat back and … lost myself. I loved it. ... what I loved most was the conceit, and I mean conceit in the way Samuel Johnson meant, in other words, what I’m talking about here is the strategy. The work didn’t say, “Now, listen up folks. You really have to do something about the languages that are dying out all over our planet.” Whispers did something far superior. It gave us some languages (some spoken and some sung) and it asked us simply to immerse and lose ourselves in them. And by the time that process was over, 46 minutes later, it had won the argument (without raising its voice). Once you’ve heard these words, the words in this film, that are spoken by marginal peoples from all over the world, you know these languages must be nurtured and nourished and cherished and that that position is non-negotiable. Whispers put the case and collapsed the opposition. Game over as my children would say. Now that’s quite something to pull off in 45 or 46 minutes. A magnificent achievement and a magnificent work."
—Carlo Gébler, Irish poet, playwright and novelist
By Morgan Meis
Published MAY 18, 2015
Why photograph Theo Jansen's kinetic sculptures, the Strandbeests? Well, why photograph anything alive?
“And that is exactly what Lena Herzog has done, quite movingly, with the beach beasts of Theo Jansen. She’s photographed them as you would photograph a beloved friend or a dog that you’ve lived with for many years. Herzog’s photographs are not so much acts of documentation as acts of tenderness.”
CURIOSITIES / NYTIMES.COM
By Kathryn Harrison
Published: December 3, 2010
Bullfighting. Flamenco. Religious pilgrimage. On the face of it, little in Lena Herzog’s earlier monographs prepares her audience for LOST SOULS (de.MO design, $54), photographs taken in “cabinets of curiosities,” collections of anatomical specimens dating back to the 17th century. But if the denial of death inspires the making of a photograph, fixing a moment so that it never ends ...
“If her theme is macabre, Herzog’s vision is vigorously redemptive, reanimating flesh with light, surrounding faces with incandescent auras. Even as it exposes them, light seems to emanate from some of the specimens, as if a transubstantiation had occurred; Herzog exalts what Christian church authorities once condemned as an unholy practice, conveying something close to ecstasy. While she cannot pose her subjects, she casts them in blatant religious iconography. Light refracted through liquid splashes halos on faces, and captures one in the attitude of supplication. In these photographs illumination is so pure and radiant it recalls the paintings of Caravaggio, velvety blacks and glowing whites joined in dramatic chiaroscuro.”
By Lawrence Weschler
Back in 1594, in the very heart of the period we will be considering in the pages that follow, Sir Francis Bacon, while prescribing the essential apparatus for “a compleat and consummate Gentleman” in his Gesta Grayorum, suggested that in attempting to achieve “within a small compass a model of the universal made private,” any such would-be magus would almost certainly want to compile “a goodly huge Cabinet, wherein whatsoever the Hand of Man by exquisite Art or Engine, hath made rare in Stuff, Form, or Motion, whatsoever Singularity, Chance and the shuffle of things hath produced, whatsoever Nature hath wrought in things that want Life, and may be kept, shall be sorted and included.”
By Ian Frazier, Jesse Wender
Published September 5, 2011
A breathtaking image by Lena Herzog opens Ian Frazier’s story this week on Theo Jansen’s Strandbeests—kinetic sculptures, resembling giant animal skeletons, that can walk on the beach, powered only by the wind.
By Michael Weinstein
Published November 6, 2012
In a remarkable project that fuses Ripley’s Believe It or Not with hardcore existentialism, Lena Herzog undertakes an extensive black-and-white photographic series in which she documents strange and amazing human creations such as the curiosities that Europeans used to put on display in cabinets made for that purpose (“Lost Souls” series), a symphony orchestra composed of mouse skeletons (“Rhapsody in Death”), and the wind-powered “beach animals” constructed by Theo Jansen that roam around the shoreline in the Netherlands (“Deus ex Machina”).
By Tracy Hallett
Published February 2004, Issue No. 30
"I am influenced by Weegee and Diane Arbus, but recently I went to see an exhibition by August Sander and it completely blew me away," she enthuses. "His images stay with you - they stay in your spine. With Diane Arbus, the impact is immediate, but with Sander the layers take longer to come through. You rarely see this, even in painting - with Sander the more you see, the more you get it."
By Dawn Sumner
Published December 12-31, 2003
"It feels as though I have been an outsider all my life, but for me it is not a sad thing, it is a good thing because I think my senses are sharper somehow, and it is a good thing to live an examined life if circumstances make you evaluate it more intensely. Being an immigrant, has given me a certain alertness."
By Juan Maria Rodriguez
Published April 30, 2002
"My father, who is a scientist had a huge library. Books of all sorts ... a lot on philosophy ... In this library there were also art books, the Caprichos and the Tauromaquia by Goya among them ...now, ...each time I come to Spain I go to the Prado to see the originals. The period of Goya that is called oscuro ("dark") does not seem dark to me at all, it is beautiful, ingenious."
By Andrew Marin Cejudo
Published April 16, 2002
"Lena Herzog first found the world of bullfighting through the gravures of Goya, which is the best way to enter it with a clear head and dark shadows. She recreated the image of a tragic and deadly spectacle.
"With her Leica as an analytical eye Herzog came into the world of bullfighting like an apocryphal with the distance and yet a clarity of insight..."
"The result [of her work] is an original look at the mystical moments in bullfighting. Even though she is a foreigner to the tradition she dominates it and finds in it a distinct point of view."
By Alberto Garcia Reyes
Published April 16, 2002
"Seville for bullfighting is like La Scala for the opera.
What captured me about the bullfight was its mystery, the mixture of joy and sadness that envelop the toreros." (Lena Herzog)
"She is a humanist whose photographs are a precise chronicle of the passion of bullfighting, said Ignacio de Cossío ."
By Margo Molina
Published April 19, 2002
"What interests me most about corrida is suspense" (Lena Herzog)
"She was six when she picked up a book of Los Caprichos by Goya and became fascinated with tauromaquia. In 1997 the photographer was confronted with the "beauty, the horror, the grandeur and the crudeness" in the bullfight arena of Seville for the first time. Since then, for 32 afternoons she went to the arena with her camera in hand.
"... she does not photograph the celebrity bullfighters ... what interests her is this world, the sensibility, the intensity of the stares of the protagonists of the fiesta."
"The suspense is what always interested me most about the bullfight. The ritual is preordained, but the outcome isn't. When one overcomes the natural fear of being in front of a bull, one has to feel a sensation of great freedom, which is what we search for so intensely. People demand a hero, so that they can associate themselves with him."
By Lindsey Westbrook
Published January 5, 2001
"Below Zero is a group of black-and-white photos of Vienna taken by Herzog over the last few winters. She uses a different technique for shooting and developing each one, always capturing a different effect of the cold - and proving that she is definitely a master of her medium.
... all of Herzog's pictures have an intangible foreignness to them like an old black-and-white European art film. It's something to do with the quality of light, the starkness of the sky, the graininess of the print ..."