Moving in a straight circle
By Markus Lantto
Written for the exhibition Erik Friis Reitan at Risør Kunstpark, Norway, 2013

Photography is after all just an illusion. Give a photo of the norwegian royal family to a jungle-dweller who makes her living gathering fruits and hunting jungle-squirrels with her blowpipe. Not only can she probably not see that it´s a nowegian royal family, she can´t even see that it is a representation at all. Just colour variations on a sheet of paper. For after all: that is just what it is. We, having grown up among photographs and moving images on screens, know how to read them. But if someone like Erik Friis Reitan prints out 40m2 and covers entire rooms with the stuff, the terms change somehow. His photographs become part of the wall. No, hang on, he exchanges the wall for the image. And furthermore: he succeeds in making what is left of the wall become part of his photograph. Maybe he is leaving the genre of photography altogether, moving with a compass straight into apostrophy and I´m left on my own.

I stand surrounded by a snow-massive without landmarks, thinking of snow-blindness. Or I am facing a darkness that fills my field of vision where all I can make out is a black tree-trunk. Also here a sort of blindness. Maybe if I wait long enough it will brighten so that I once more will be able to orient myself. Precisely orientation in a landscape, or the impossibility of it, is what I end up with. They say that when you have lost your way you start to walk in cicles, struggling to retrace your steps back to the main roads and the safe, electrified civilization.

It can be said that a black tree against a black wall is a royal salute to minimalism. But it is still something else. A word that strikes me is photorealism. Perhaps a strange choice of words when talking about photographic art. I will have to wait until my eyes have adapted so that I can see properly. Is it the black wall that becomes a photorealistic rendition of the darkest forest night, where not even starlight can reach the ground? And how about the layers of sediment in the cliffs and boulders that measure time for us in a scale that is so unimaginable to humans that we have no practical use for it? If we cut out and present the massive of rock with minute control. Will that work? Humanity is just a short exposure on the surface of the earth. Who will be there later to interpret our traces; our shopping carts, cafés and nuclear wars?

The native human does not see. And all the while she sees what we cannot se. She does not separate her surroundings in squares and lines on a map before she goes off to work in the morning. Why can´t I too, when presented with a photograph of a random royal family, exclaim: "oh look, a paper with variations in colour"? Have I learned something new to a greater extent than I have lost something old when interpreting my surroundings? I read somewhere that cultures with many words for colours can identify more nuances. Its true.

What can this teach us?