Born in Munich in 1983, Lena Grass studied photo design at the Munich University of Applied Sciences, graduating in 2008 after spending a semester in Barcelona, Spain. Since graduating, she has worked as a freelance photographer on both applied and artistic projects. Her photo book, Nachtigall (Nightingale), has been included in many international exhibitions, and is currently sold all over the world.
Since the 18th century, the nightingale has acted as a muse for artists. Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, each saw the bird as a poet, singing against solitude and darkness. Lena Grass follows suit with her stunning visual study of the essence of both the night and the nightingale, presenting the poetic and isolating nature of being alone with only yourself in the absence of the light.
The book is both black and white and color, but each image is steeped in shadowy tones, as tactile as rainwater mixing with dirt, a gritty murkiness you can rub between your fingers. We are presented with fragments, non-linear moments led by intuition, like fumbling for the corners of your house in a half sleep. Much like the nature of the bird, the imagery is fleeting, out of sight as quickly as they perch.
Grass has always reflected on the night’s special ability to force us to reflect on ourselves, and with this work she realized that what we may actually fear in the darkness is not losing ourselves, but instead, finding ourselves. Her subjects are both surrealist and straightforward, consisting of portraits and landscapes, but each page presents us with boundaries, often taking the point of view of looking through, helpless, at the other side. With slowly closing doors, lines painted in the grass, and air vents leaking light, a sense of isolation wavers just on the edge of discomfort, and we’re forced to consider if seeing the other side with no hope of reaching it is better than seeing nothing at all.
The book is signed, comes in a hand-numbered edition of 400, and includes a limited edition poster.
Review by Taylor Kigar
Title : “Nachtigall”, 2013
Size : 16.5 x 21.3 cm
Page Count : 64 Pages
Publisher : Self Published
Edition : 400, Signed & numbered, includes limited edition poster