“Being” on-the-road a text from Ingeborg Ruthe

Others jot down notes or talk to dictating machines so they don't forget what they see when on the road. Oliver Möst takes pictures – fills his personal and travel journals with ambiguous images. In truth, the photographer paused a good, long while in front of his subjects and developed mystically rhythmical, often vertical, panoramic puzzles.

An evening glance to the Spree - near Jannowitz Bridge from the Kreuzberg side, to Mitte and Friedrichshain, to the city train and the post-socialist-new-construction district have the synchronous effect of a timeless poem: five moments captured from the same camera angle from the roof down. Thousands of light reflections in (not on) the water as if the Spree is guiding miniature sheets of ice. It has to be just an illusion. Perhaps the city train is as it was, or else - two, three, or more frames on - already something else. Conceptual, not journalistic, photography with an enormous poetic effect. The visual path to the motifs creates a rhythmical “relief”. The motifs portray both intimate connection and separation “framed” by the all-in-a-row arrangement of photo clips. Inside are doubled images, mirrored images, and reflexions. The additive images speak, but in riddles. What was once found is lost to an almost surreal, artistic quality - and doubled, multiplied motion is invariably around.

Oliver Möst uses a half-frame camera from the 70's to achieve this effect. Aficionados refer to these practical apparatuses as Afga Paramat or Olympus Pen or “Afga Parat”, a telling play on words in German meaning something like “the handy Afga.” Thanks to this outdated technology the photographer can get 72 exposures from a 36 print film. A friend of his took pictures with such a camera in the late 90's. Oliver Möst borrowed the camera. At a flea market he came upon one to call his own - followed by another and still another. The half-frame has since become his constant companion - from Berlin past Madrid to Rotterdam. Beginning in the year 2000, his PenParamat series developed along the way. The images are traveling pictures - of cities, architecture, squares, interiors, of houses, and city railways by the river, and motifs of landscapes - taken right off the cuff and usually with a long exposure time. And so the interior of the lobby of the Bank of Madrid became a worthy photo subject: four extended exposure sequences, spliced into a vertical panorama, which fuse space and light as if in a cathedral and set them in motion. The static pillar architecture in the lobby is set afloat by the fleeing sparks of light. Tables and racks of brochures seem to fly. Reflexions of light dance on the stony floor.

The panoramas tell tales, but the stories - which surely belong to the photographer's concept as well - are unexpectedly disrupted. An exit-closed sign enters the rigidly framed night montage “Museumplatz, Rotterdam.” In another, lights reflected from the ceiling of a city hall swim on the mirror- smooth floor like water lilies in a pond. Reality appears shattered, somehow lost. It's as if the photographer wants to restore it with a picture composition in which what's in the foreground is less noteworthy than the background or middle – a traditional painting principle transcribed to his traveling “notes.”

© Oliver Möst

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