Under the theme of “Photography as you don’t know it,” the Pictures section in the Winter 2013 issue of Aperture magazine presents the work of ten photographers who have been overlooked and undervalued. The curators, historians, writers, and publishers who introduce these photographers give various reasons as to why they have been insufficiently acknowledged: geography, gender, illness, politics, debates about photographic style or representation, lack of self-promotional savvy, or simply fading from the limelight. Among these photographers is Maria Sewcz.
“The work of a student in her mid-twenties, inter esse is self-consciously about living in between and on the brink, caught up in observing oneself and the moment, looking for options, wary of predictions”—Britt Salvesen, curator and head of the Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Maria Sewcz’s photographs not only document a particular moment, but also displace it. Taken between 1985 and 1987 in East Berlin, two years before the Wall came down, the photographs in her series inter esse depict cars, architecture, fashions, and gestures. Considered as displacements, they exclude faces, monuments, and signposts. The “new Germany” that artists has been asked to extol at mid-century probably meant little to Sewcz, either ideologically or aesthetically; it was simply the Germany she knew.
Her photograph Dalmatian, 1986–7, is stripped of context; all that stands out is the spotted coat of a car’s canine passenger. The driver can be seen only as a phantom hand, the other passengers as dark shapes in the background. Sewcz’s photographs stake a claim for abstraction.