Focus auf, Frankfurter Rundschau, 2002-02-03

Frankfurter Rundschau 03 February 2001

"Focus auf Jens Komossa"

You can forget the daily news when Jens Komossa comes to your house. ESPN News is probably out too. When Komossa unpacks his camera, sets it up directly in front of your TV, turns off the lights, and shoos you out, you’re in for the long haul. “I often need exposure times of up to several hours,” says the photographer, as the odd, blue glow of the TV is not the brightest, and, after all, it has to light the whole room. But this twilight quality is exactly what Jens Komossa is going for in his most recent series entitled “Television Rooms."

So you just have to hunker down with Jens Komossa and a bottle of red wine either in the dining room, or in some part of the TV room not captured by the wide-angle lens, and watch the TV and the camera at work. It’s actually quite meditative, “like staring into a fireplace,” the photographer explains. “To just sit there thoughtlessly- it has a calming effect.” Though as the hours wear on it can get on your nerves a little bit. “TV’s a kind of a form of brainwashing, don’t you think?” Komossa might ask you. He doesn’t mean that disparagingly, however. Sometimes it’s nice to have your brain washed out a little bit, he proposes. “When there’s too much chaos in my head, I just put some really bad TV on, an American sit-com or something, and then it’s tabula rasa.” Don’t take it personally that you and your family aren’t in the picture, sitting in front of your TV. “I think people are great, and interesting,” says Komossa, as if to reassure. Empty rooms are what do it for him, though.

This has been the case since his arrival in Berlin in 1994 when he began floating through the night like a ghost, hard at work as a professional night-reveler. “When the people are gone, the room becomes a stage,” he explains. “Besides,” he continues, “at night, I can work in peace.”

Maybe a streetlight shines in through your TV room window, but that’s OK- Komossa loves all the lights of the night: the cool light of lit billboards, the soft light of gas lanterns, the orange light of the incandescent bulb coming in from the living room, even the flickering blue light of the screen. This love is the origin of his series “Berlin Rooms,” a collection of views out of windows, observing the light of the street. And now he’s on to “TV Rooms,” rooms illuminated by the light of a television. And he lets the exposure last until the flickering quality of the light in the picture is gone, and everything is brightly lit.

If this effect happens to confuse you, you’ll probably get a satisfied grin from Komossa. “That moment of confusion when one at first wonders if the picture was taken at night or during the day” - that fascinates him.

Jens certainly doesn’t want to put down those who watch TV. For him, TV is just “a door through which one can arrive somewhere else,” as it always was for him in his youth, another story you might hear over the sound of the umpteenth commercial break as it roars softly next to the watchful eye of the camera, still recording the same scene. In his youth, in Niederrhein, he worked in his father’s electronics store, carrying new or repaired TV’s to peoples’ apartments. And little schoolboy Jens found himself in “totally foreign living spaces,” looking around, wide-eyed and impressionable. He still likes discovering these new little worlds, only now, he brings his camera along.

So, now you can switch the TV off. Why? Just do what Jens Komossa does, watch TV at other peoples’ houses. It is, without a doubt, a more interesting experience.


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