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In German there’s a one letter difference between ‘living room’ (‘Wohnzimmer’) and ‘mad room’ (‘Wahnzimmer’), as pointed out by the Goethe Institute. A single disputed vowel that might just be enough of a gap through which to capture light, like a pinhole camera. The photographs of Anna & Bernhard Blume are funny, laugh out loud so at times, until you consider why you’re laughing and who the joke is on. We diminish creative works by comparison but we have to; it’s the same impulse we have in language or mapmaking. We’re pareidolic mammals programmed to discern form from chaos. With photographs like these that evade understanding, we are forced to orientate ourselves elsewhere. Surrealism. Dada. Fluxus. Beckett. Bacon. Švankmajer. A surrealised version of Richard Billingham’s Ray’s A Laugh perhaps. Beyond grim humour and aesthetics, they seem closer to Malevich’s ikons. They are poetry where most other photographs are prose, existing in and of themselves, containing something indecipherable and inexplicably unnerving. They have attempted the seemingly impossible dream of Flaubert, “What strikes me as beautiful, what I should like to do, is a book about nothing, a book without external attachments, which would hold itself together by itself through the internal force of its style.” We might wonder what they mean, why a jug should levitate or poltergeists run riot in a kitchen or why an old man should spin around a room with a look of terror on his face or an old lady, pinned to the wall at an unnatural angle, be bombarded with potatoes. Maybe the question we should be asking, the question that separates critics from artists, is why shouldn’t they? At the very least, we might have a laugh at someone’s (our own?) expense.






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