“Belladonna”, 2013 | Installation view: Jochen Lempert, “Seeing is Believing”, Norma Mangione Gallery, Torini ; Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano ; Courtesy BQ, Berlin
Jochen Lempert is a photographer whose work picks up on subjects he has been following since his studies of biology. But his analogue black-and-white prints have little in common with the objective documentation common to the sciences; if at all, they are akin to the particular aesthetics of early 19th century photography used to illustrate scientific almanacs. Lempert’s perspective directs our attention to biological phenomena such as mimesis and mimicry, the conquest of new habitats, the adaption to changing environmental conditions, and to the anomalies of group behaviour. By placing photographs of different categories in parallel, be it humans and animals, or technology and nature, which formally resemble each other, his work suggests the existence of a hidden principle that transgresses the physical and hints at a meaningful interrelation. At the same time, it also makes us ask if it is not only our systematising perception that induces us to recognise formal resemblances. While factual science will never be able to fully embrace the enchantments of nature, Lempert’s photographs certainly make an enticing approach. The lack of formal coherence is as irritating as it is titillating. Striking several levels all at once, the secret of all life is here rendered sensible.