Susan Derges & Hildegard von Bingen

9 - 16 February 2008

Photographer Susan Derges elected to show alongside the 12th century visionary Hildegarde Von Bingen.


Derges' newest works are a remarkable continuation of her exploration of the possibilities of her camera-less photography. Made at night, in the open air, using the natural world as her darkroom she is drawing both on experiments of the earliest 19th century photographers, and on the potential of new technologies. In doing so she has quite literally invented a new way of making pictures and in this group of three new works she presents some of the most original, and beautiful images of her already distinguished career.


Von Bingen (1098-1179) is best known for her music: she is thought to be the first composer whose work, mostly in plain song and chant, can be ascribed to her name. She was also the author of many important religious and visionary texts; as well as being the founder of her own convent, the first writer of either sex to describe, in words, the female orgasm and, more relevantly in our current context, was responsible for some of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts of Medieval times.


The keepers of Von Bingen's legacy at the Abbey she founded in Radesheim am Rhein gave their permission to project an image of one of her "illuminations", 'Recycling Lucifer's Fall', directly onto the gallery wall. Derges has written of her first discovery of Von Bingen's illuminations:


"I had known her music for a long time but was completely amazed at the beauty and depth of her cosmological diagrams - particularly a long, vertical piece titled Recycling Lucifer's Fall into Humanity's Glory , depicting a field of stars becoming submerged in waves of water. I was intrigued, partly because I had just begun to work with star fields and water, but also because I sensed a psychological reading of the image that might shed some light on what I was trying to articulate in the images I had just started making".