This week's portfolio session is with the still life photographer Thomas Albdorf. Taken on by Webber Represents photographic agency last month, I first came across his work on It’s Nice That, when Thomas was one of their 'Students Of The Month' back in 2011. Previously a graphic designer, Thomas starting studying conceptual art in Vienna and in his third year started using photography as his main medium. His course was so conceptual however that he actually considers himself a self taught photographer with a background in art.
Thomas’s work is confident and exciting and Webber have curated his portfolio perfectly. I had a chat with Thomas about his work last week and I discovered a smart, funny and very considered photographer with a huge love of all things sculptural.
Citing people like Marcel Duchamp and Fischli & Weiss as inspirations, the first project we discuss is ‘Woodwork’. Shot in 2010 he considers this project his starting point with photography. Growing up in the mountains, Thomas has always been fascinated with woodlands and wanted to created images that reflected the beauty of nature. He did however want to introduce another element, something sculptural to break the tradition of how we perceive nature.
Experimenting with transparent foils that he then painted, everything in this series is staged in front of the camera, with none of the digital interventions he would later introduce into his work. Woodwork is the first project that introduces the main theme of photography and sculpture, a thread throughout all of Thomas’s subsequent work.
Thomas’s second project ‘Actualities’ moves his work from his childhood surroundings to his urban environments in Vienna. Often working with the things he found in his flat or on the street, he created lots of simple ‘interventions’ creating sculptures that only exist for a short period but are frozen in time as part of an image.
His ‘Former Writer’ series is a reference to his teenage years spent as a graffiti writer. He brings this back into his photographic work using tape and wire, tape so often being used by graffiti writers to tag their names on the wall.
My favourite projects however are ‘A Song of Nature’ and ‘Beholding Mountains’, his most recent projects. Having spent the last few years working with sculpture in both urban and non urban environments, A Song of Nature marks a transition into the use of altered images, bringing post production techniques into his work. Using found images of Alpine landscapes shot in the 70’s, Thomas reappropriates these images and introduces new elements, with some shot in camera and others created in post. Occasionally it is difficult to tell where analogue ends and digital production begins but in a way Thomas quite likes the uncertainty and hopes the viewer will accept the image as it is.
He has also created some personal installations experimenting with the concepts of commercial product photography. Sourcing random objects, he constructs images with objects that have no relationship with each other. There is no logic to them but the way he shoots the objects is appealing and seductive, much like the main aims of commercial product advertising.
Thomas is currently working on his first book, Beholding Mountains, with Lodret Vandret, which will be released this year at the New York Art Book Fair. He is also heading to Unseen this year with Webber and presenting his new book at Paris Photo. Exciting times for a very exciting photographer.