Elemental. This is the word to aptly describe the photographs Christian and Helga von Alvensleben have created over the past few years. Their current series of works entitled ‘HAUTE COUTURE DES HIMMELS’ now focusses on nothing less than clouds, atmosphere and air. The pictorial language of the 16 large-format photographs is also elemental. Devoid of a horizon line, the sky covers the entire surface of the image. Sometimes the vapour is light and airy, sometimes dark and threatening in the way it merges to form veils, vortexes and towers of cloud demonstrating to us the impressive depth and simultaneously the fragile delicacy of the mantle of air enveloping the earth. When this is joined by the fine desert sand that the Calima, the desert wind from the Sahara, blows up into the air masses above the Canary Islands, then exciting traces of colour suddenly become visible in the skies.

Together with the photographer we are spellbound by the drama of the cloud formations crossing the sky. In a dizzy change of perspectives, top and bottom lose their normal meaning and it almost feels as if we are floating. The view Alexander Gerst had from the International Space Station ISS was similar when he summarized his impressions stating that, “If you are honest up in space, you can tell how fragile the earth’s ecosystem is, surrounded as it is by a wafer-thin atmosphere” and he pointed out at the same time how humankind is accountable for dealing responsibly with the world’s resources.
After works depicting the salt of the saline marshes and the lava rock of the volcanic island of Lanzarote, the mass of water in the giant waves and the rising spray of the spume off the Portuguese Atlantic coast, and after the portraits of ancient olive trees and people wearing the masks of traditional rituals on the Peloponnese, the atmosphere in the series ‘Haute Couture des Himmels’ seems to be the natural continuation of the photographic confrontation with the archaic forces of nature.

Sebastian Lux, F. C. Gundlach Foundation