Singularity

Singularity, 2018 – 2019 series of 59 photographs (incl. archival reproductions), various dimensions. Published in the book with the same title. The work was produced during the Inselkuenstler residency program by Sylter Kunstfreunde.

‘Singularity’ is a work about the North Frisian island of Sylt. Stradtmann visited the island several times in 2018 and 2019. Sylt is a main holiday destination and is reputed for its exceptional uniqueness of the landscape. This was the entry point for Stradtmann’s analysis, based on ideas he had about the island even before visiting. He remarked: ‘Uniqueness means something special. A characteristic that is unmistakable; an attribute that arises simply because a piece of land is surrounded by sea—an island—with naturally occurring dunes and sandy beaches. At the same time, this island evokes longing, grounded in shared experiences of sunsets, long beach walks and fresh sea air—a uniqueness that is also a matter of collective conformity’.

‘Singularity’ includes places that are clearly recognisable as geographical locations on the island like the Westerland Health Resort, built in the 1960s. ‘This was one picture I had of Sylt: the tower block by the sea, the idea of an apartment overlooking the island—all at a time when the next step of allowing cars to be driven on the beach did not seem far away. For me, the Westerland Health Resort is a symbol of the ongoing dispute about architectural change on the island’. In contrast to these geographically determinate pictures, Stradtmann introduces referential photographs that describe an area without clearly identifying it.

In his encounters with young people who work as temporary volunteers on the island’s nature projects and in the Wadden Sea National Park, Stradtmann found an equivalent for his own situation as an artist on the island. ‘The work these adolescents perform—moving to a limited place for a fixed period of time to experience, observe and engage with the environment—corresponds to my own situation. I was fascinated by the quiet ongoing work of these young people, often in the background, and their dedication to preserving nature. This activity is not in the canon of a Sylt visit, nor does it represent the stereotypes of Sylt or follow a given pattern; instead, it invites a new perspective on the island as a vibrant and verifiable representation of social norms and values. In my encounters with these young people, I also discovered that the uniqueness of this time as volunteers will influence the rest of their lives by connecting them with each other and building friendships and solidarity. For me, it was important to show this closeness and concentration, based on power and charisma, in the group portraits’.

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