The key to understanding Saskia Groneberg's photography is the second look; a look that peers beyond the aesthetic beauty of the image composition and fuses the almost imperceptible discrepancies and subtle humor that give her work a captivating tension. Here, in the second look, the depth of research underlying her art is revealed, and the substantial multi-layered analysis that characterizes her work beyond the image’s subject is made visible. How inherently abstract concepts of community and culture can be portrayed artistically is a question that runs through Groneberg's photography, not by illustrating political events, but by shifting the focus away from humans to the domesticated, artificial nature they create.
While her interest in botanical phenomena is primarily socio-political, the plants in her images do not function as a background, but instead dominate human life as a "boundary object," the physical object in sociological theory that imparts different perspectives, attitudes, and interpretations to observers. Nature shaped by humans, in the form of an ornamental plant, a garden, or even a designed landscape, constitutes a surface in Groneberg’s images that invites the viewer to question not only human behavior and psyche, but social, cultural, and political processes and events. Through the motif of artificial nature – whether a canal or the leaf of an office plant – Groneberg's photos expose more about the human condition and the politics of communal life than so many portraits.
The subject matter in Groneberg's artistic practice often originates from a manifest discrepancy in the relationship between man and nature. From their mutual influence, which is not always conflict-free, Groneberg develops various photographic series that often scrutinize synthetic nature as the surface upon which human desires and needs are projected. Many of Groneberg's works depict a moment of friction or tipping point in the relationship between humans and nature. As complex as the often ambivalent positioning or negotiation between how these binaires materialize in reality, so too are Groneberg’s photographs. Her concern is never just a simple assertion or evaluation; on the contrary, her visual language manages not only to capture contradictions in an exceptional way, but to allow disparate phenomena to equally coexist.
Saskia Groneberg’s work combines the seemingly contradictory ideas of conceptual and documentary photography. Between subjective narrative and rational analysis, she creates works that depict the world, ask questions, but never attempt to provide simple answers. Groneberg’s images excel in this, bearing a precise, but also equally haunting, complicated beauty. Not least of all, they demonstrate the attention and subtle humor with which the artist approaches the world. In her photography and video works, Groneberg challenges perceptions of classical subjects and habits of seeing and also formally expands the concept of fine art photography. In addition to images and video, her work also includes book projects and installations, and increasingly, artistic explorations of thematic archives and historical visual material as well. 


Anja Lückenkemper
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