Tate Liverpool is proud to present a new series of specially commissioned
photographic works by German artist Rut Blees Luxemburg. Based in London,
she has regularly exhibited her work internationally, establishing herself
as one of the most interesting young photographers on the British scene.
The photographs for Phantom have been taken in Dakar, capital of Senegal and
maritime centre of West Africa. The links between Liverpool and Dakar are
historically one of colonialism and the slave trade, but Dakar is now
considered a fashion and culture capital and so connects with contemporary
Liverpool in more positive ways.
Blees Luxemburg is best known for her images taken during the small hours of
urban darkness. Using long exposures and the all encompassing, ever present
neon glare of the city, the artist combines precise composition with
intricate detail – footprints in silt half washed away or the shadow of a
tree across a wall quietly comment on the transitory nature of hidden beauty
in the city.
This style presents the viewer with a tragic yet romantic vision of the
urban environment. Traces of habitation, suggestions of recent activity or
things happening just out of shot invade what might otherwise be cold static
scenes void of life. Implied narrative, saturated colours, burnt umbers and
gold present an image of a city full of mystery and magic, potential romance
and danger – desolate flats and all-night service stations are transformed
into stage sets for urban opera.
The photographs of Dakar try to articulate the different ways of building
and inhabiting a city and suggest the possibility of a transfer of urban
‘In my work I try to illuminate the poetics of space and search for the
entry points into the psyche of the city, which allow a free-fall into the
city of one’s imagination.’