“The world, as it has been for millennia, is changing, and Rossi has chosen photography as a medium to stir our conscience, and make us reflect on the dire question of the future of our planet. Her images are historical snapshots, conscious compositions created with a sense of urgency, aware that she is up against a race with time… “
Long ago; after tomorrow
There is no trace of human influence. Jasmine Rossi portrays nature in its most elementary form. She has travelled around the globe to photograph places of pure matter: from the icy worlds of the poles, to the deserts of the southern hemisphere.
The genre of landscape art would note suffice to classify her work – neither from the point of view of the painterly, nor from that of her personal medium – photography. Would the desire to investigate of an environmentally conscious traveller be enough to describe her work? Or is there an underlying documentary or even a philosophical quest? Certainly both, but creativity also plays a crucial part in her work.
This photographer unites methodology with a marked sense for the uniqueness of a picture. But even the most flabbergasting subject would not be worth contemplating, were there not the beauty of creation. To highlight it, Rossi uses all of her skills. She has a sense for showcasing beauty; a gift without which art hardly works.
Her subjects are the contrasts of the earth’s surface. Thus, her glacier series from Antarctica, Alaska and Patagonia is followed by the sand dunes of the Namib Desert. Each body of work is created during a series of expeditions under extreme circumstances and has been treated long and intensively. These are all sceneries that have forever attracted us civilized folks with a special magnetism – not only because they are so primeval and so hard to reach.
Physicality also plays a crucial role: the always fascinating transformation of water into ice-crystals, as that of boulders ground over millennia into trickling particles of fine sand.
In the eternal ice and the endless deserts lie the ingredients of our planet; turned into landscapes through solid, liquid, rigid and amorphous masses.
Jasmine Rossi is at heart a sculptress, who deliberately seeks these materials as sculptural forms and showcases them in her motifs. Thus, she demonstrates us how the broken off chunk of a glacier is by all means comparable to a modern plastic. In the case of the dunes, with their gently undulating crests and troughs, she highlights their bodily forms - akin to gigantic acts chiselled in marble.
She is not only interested in the material as it appears plastically, but also in the colour and texture of a subject. Not in vain is her body of work on icebergs divided into four different stages of ice; from transparent - to blue - to green - to black. The same meaning is given to the lack of colour, which is part of the optical hull of a body as much as it’s hues. But Rossi does not work with black and white photography. Rather, under given conditions, she allows the phenomenon of light and shadow to “swallow up” colour.
Her way of working is purposeful: she selects and finds subjects that she can showcase according to her own personal vision. Thus her procedure must be delineated from pure digital photo art, whose omnipotence knows multiple fictitious landscapes created on a computer.
Rossi selects the objective factors like illumination, cropping, the choice of paper and framing individually for each body of work. The glaciers of Antarctica are printed on giant transparencies in LED light-boxes, allowing their unfathomable turquoise to shine in all its beauty. Very different is the character of the araucaria trees, whose photographs taken in the snowy landscape of the Andes are printed on delicate bamboo paper and framed glassless, in wood.
These photographs make us reminisce of the painterly. As if they would arise from the imagination not the visible world. Some images remind us of surrealism. Salvador Dali’s stage-like and simultaneously endless landscapes may be a reference point. But it is not necessary to cite the surrealists, or the likes of Caspar David Friedrich and his grandiose nature paintings, to understand that Rossi has a strong tendency to the metaphysical. The images reach out beyond themselves, allowing the viewer to imagine more than he sees. Not a trace of humanity distracts him from doing so. He looks onto overwhelming landscapes as if he stood directly in front of them; nothing changes the perspective of his visual experience.
Jasmine Rossi’s photographic cycles sweep us back to pre-archaic times and look far into the future. The depicted ancient landscapes of the world - outlive entire civilizations. To portray them requires a different perspective than drawing the face of a person. To tell an endless story in a single image; one needs a different sense of time.
© Dr. Barbara Rollmann-Borretty, curator