Marie Lundquist, author:

“The Dark Room” is, in fact, two rooms. Enclosed in the middle of the large, light gallery is a black cube, a heart of darkness, a camera obscura, in which the real world’s all but forgotten and dreamed-up moments can be brought forth as if by magic. It’s hardly surprising that August was fascinated by photography. This was a new medium that he could use to realistically document both the surrounding world and himself, and, with the help of various chemical manipulations, capture that which is rather more elusive and inexplicable, such as “the true essence of the evening sky”, or the “micro-cosmic secrets” of plants. Because, weren’t these the extremes that his creative ambition spanned?

In the Swiss health resort of Gersau, where August spent some time with Siri and their children, he produced a photographic series of what he called “Impressionist images”. Not that there is much spontaneous impressionism in these undoubtedly staged family pictures, often with August himself in the centre, trying to conceal the self-timer in his hand. And what does he want to show with the self-portrait that floats in the developing tray, the picture where he, seated at his desk, rests his head in his hand so that only his mop of hair is visible? His beautiful crown of hair? Or his despair?

The pictures are accompanied by captions – quotations from his published works – juxtaposed without any apparent correlation between image and text. For example, “Eating grass doesn’t help”, a sentence from a short story set in the 16th century, appears under a picture of a guitar- playing August. Life and work merge in an unpredictable and sometimes comical manner, which makes it possible to regard the Gersau series as a comic book of a much later date.

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