Beatrice Minda is a German artist
Episode 258: Beatrice Minda is a German artist whose new book Dark Whispers published by Hartmann Books explores colonial architecture in present-day Myanmar through a quiet and often haunting lens.
When I asked for this book from Hartmann Books, it came after a period of self-deliberation trying to understand exactly why what I was seeing had such a hold on me. I had gone back and forth to the book several times over a period of months. The plain and frontal photographs of dimly-lit interior spaces in Myanmar would not be my usual cup of tea in the sense that they presented an alien (to me) landscape of which I had no real referent outside of collecting vintage photographs. I have a number of images of then-Burma in my collection, mostly relegated to the Schwedagon Temple by Philip Adolphe Klier which I have always found beautiful and interesting.
In going back to Beatrice’s book on the Hartmann site several times, I began to think of the spaces in her photographs as less about architecture and more about the ever-present ghosts of history which invaded the imagery. There is a strange pulse in the work, a tractor beam type of pull which draws the viewer deep into the space, almost as if, as I recounted in the episode, I am able to stand next to the artist while she clicked the shutter, my mind transported into a space that I can hardly imagine, but that offers a fecund sense of imaginative arousal, a nearly spiritual embrace of mind. It is very hard to explain and I am not sure that I do so well, but it is hard to outline the penetrating weight of Minda’s images. The only time I have really felt this with another artist, the ability to be transported into their work has been with Atget and sometimes Guido Guidi.
I am compelled to speak about this work at length as I think it is one of the most significant books that I have picked up over the past few years. All the elements of history, psychology, and subtle uses of light as a photographic gesture are present in the book which makes the overall work something mystified and bordering on the spiritual to experience. On top of this praise, I think it is important to note the technical mastery and profound sense of beauty in the work. I cannot relate further my praise of the work and of Beatrice herself. I believe this work needs to reach as many people as possible. It is not often that we are given work in which to project into, to live in, and to absorb in a manner that gives the viewer space to calmly reflect on very present and difficult chapters in history such as a colonial rule. This is not only about history. Currently, Myanmar is undergoing a severe transition between an authoritarian rule which has seen exile and execution debilitate its people’s right to life. It is a fraught and fragile system that continues to ask questions of its past and its future. Please tune in. Thank you Beatrice for your work and your time.