Venice is one of the most-photographed cities in the world. I am–and I say this with the greatest love for the city–kind of sick of looking at it. But there’s something magnetic about German photographer Jessica Backhaus’s portrayal of Venice in her series and book, I Wanted to See the World.
Unlike the throngs of other photographers that move through the city every day, the Berlin-based Backhaus trained her lens downward, capturing Venice in reflections. It’s a photographic trope that could have easily fallen into high-school-art-project territory, but Backhaus’s cred as a still-life photographer imbues each image with a poise and clarity that set them apart.
Critic Alexa Becker, who works for Backhaus’s publisher, describes the series with this frank summary:
Distortion and transformation now enter into Backhaus’s work for the first time, and in some cases an utter refusal to imbue the images with any particular sentiment. If there is a system of metaphors at work here, then they are conveyed in a very subtle, sophisticated manner.
So, yes, Venice might be sinking way more quickly than scientists had previously assumed. But don’t feel guilty if you think the city looks even more beautiful when it’s reflected in Adriatic salt water.
All images are courtesy of the artist and Robert Klein Gallery.