FotoFest 2006

The fourteen chromogenic prints (each 49 x 64 inches) making up the exhibition that Klemm has titled Metamorphosis are a series of mysterious tableaux made in the depths of the old growth forest. Each print seems at first to be a pastoral study of the soft counterpane of the underforest, but it turns out, at second glance, to reveal the presence of a derelict automobile, quietly moldering away in the perpetual twilight of the forest floor. Shrouded in mantles of moss and seized up in nets of vine, these decaying automobiles strangely seem less dead than their verdant embalming would lead you to believe, their headlights and bumpers and bits of brightwork gleaming dully in the green light as if they were about to stir and open their feral eyes. Sometimes the vegetation washes over the cars like a tide, clinging to their metal bones like seaweed. Sometimes only their windshields are overgrown, as if they have been blinded by the relentless greenness.

Gary Michael Dault, Art Critic, Toronto Globe and Mail, Excerpt from his essay in the FOTOFEST2006 Catalogue.




Metamorphosis, explores the beauty of decay and the resulting rebirth. A small square of rainforest is the final resting place for the curvaceous and once gleaming automobiles of yesterday, now shells for moss and fern to embrace and occupy. The vehicles are reclaimed by the forest as equal space for growth.

Born in a small German town in 1939, Eric Klemm pursued a five-year course at an art school in Trier, Germany. After working for seven years as an art director in Heidelberg, he turned seriously to photography in 1968, when an image of his was published in Twen, one of Germany’s top magazines at the time. He was offered a job at the magazine by Willi Fleckhaus, the influential art director. That same year, Klemm was recognized  by the prestigious Art Directors Club New York for one of his Twen photographs that jumpstarted his career. Klemm’s first book, Leute (Mannheim, Germany, Mannheimer Verlagsanstalt, 1971), was followed closely by Girls Girls (Munich, Germany, Verlag Laterna Magica, 1973), which included a foreword by Willi Fleckhaus and a text by Karl Pawek, organizer of Stern magazine’s second and third World Exhibition of Photography (1968 and 1973), both of which included work by Klemm. It was at this time that Klemm had his first exhibition in Heidelberg. In 1974, Klemm moved to Duesseldorf, opened a studio, and worked with numerous advertising agencies and art directors. His work was published in magazines such as Stern, Zeit-Magazine, Freundin, PHOTO, and Lui. From 1973 until 1980, Klemm was a major contributor to German Playboy under the direction of Rainer Woertmann. He became a member of Germany’s Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Photographie, and Professional Camera published in 1980 an eight-page portfolio about his work. Then Klemm left Germany for Cocoa Island in the Maldives, which was to become his home for the next fifteen years. In 1990 he published two books on the Maldives. Both contained a foreword by his friend, the photographer Leni Riefenstahl. Klemm spent seven years in France, then immigrated to British Columbia in 1998. In Vancouver he began to paint, which strongly influenced his photographic approach. Klemm now lives on Salt Spring Island near Vancouver.

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