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Urbanautica

KRASS CLEMENT

BY MARTIN PETERSEN

This is the first time that my editor has encouraged me to write about a particular photographer, and yes Steve, I know the name Krass Clement. I do not have a thorough knowledge of his work, but his name rings a very clear bell in my head because I have long thought that he belonged in their 20s and 30s. That was before I encountered him again in 2010 as part of the “Denmark in Transition” exhibition at Brandts, Odense, Denmark.

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© Krass Clement, ‘Skygger Af Øjeblikke’, 1978

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© Krass Clement, ‘Det Tavse Land’, 1981

"I stopped by Clement’s work, and dwelled on it for a moment. His use of the fog, and the way he approaches his photos reminds me of what I do, not that I want to humiliate him with further comparisons, but this was a new name and work, to dive into… "

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© Krass Clement, ‘Det Tavse Land’, 1981

A new name, whose work I knew only in glimpses, and the black / white glimpses they were, had sent me back to the interwar period. But Krass Clement is contemporary, vintage 1946, a man of retirement age who has photographed for over 50 years. Trained instructor but self-taught as a photographer and with a portfolio behind him that deserves respect.

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© Krass Clement, ‘Gentagelsens Fest’, 1984

In his book projects, he has visited Berlin, Paris, Moscow, Havana, Lisbon and Copenhagen, yet it is his work from the rural outskirts of Denmark that I know best. His work here does not draw strings to another time, but stands outside time, or rather shows places where time stands still. There is a long way from winter and the gable at the ramshackle farmhouse with a newer slurry tank dominant in the not too distant background, to the family on the beach, facing away from the camera as if they chose to be anonymous. But neither of the pictures contain trace of time. The family could have been sitting on the beach in summer, or 30 years ago and the gable could have been overthrown years ago and the slurry tank been obsolete for a long time, or they can look like they do in the picture because the past they have been immortalized in is not so distant. I can’t tell.

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© Krass Clement, ‘Langs Vinden’, 1998

"Clement can find poetry in life’s dark side. He cultivates motivic lost, he perpetuates marginalized and forgotten cities and countries, and last but not least, forgotten people .. He is a melancholy esthetician who has an eye for odd characters, the excluded, the decay, the loneliness, and he is a masterful historian of the state of introversion that sends us back to ourselves .. "

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© Krass Clement, ‘Færgen’, 1999

© Krass Clement, ‘Færgen’, 1999

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© Krass Clement, ‘Færgen’, 1999

The words are taken from a review of Færgen (The Ferry), 1999, a book of portraits of passengers on board a low cost ferry service in the last days before a then newly built bridge made the route redundant. A completely different scenario than the ones described above, but recognizable in both those of his photos I thought belonged to another era, in the series I know him best for, and in the rest of his work.

If you visit Krass Clement’s website, I recommend that you look closer at Novemberrejse (November Travel), 2008, which is the above review excerpts in a concentrated film noir version, and Ved Døden (By Death), 1990, which seems atypical for his series, but holds life’s end, decay and loneliness presented in a picturesque obscurity.

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© Krass Clement, ‘Novemberrejse’, 2008 

Martin Petersen is a Danish photographer based on the island of Funen mainly working with landscape photography. His work is never project based, but his series are time frames that show a certain place at a certain moment. Martin has been a music writer for the last 10 years but has recently put the pen to paper to write about his other great passion photography. Martin was named co-editor of Urbanautica in november 2011. Since then he has edited several reviews and essays on Danish and Scandinavian photography.

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