Moritz Koch, Nightmare in Paradise – Photography
Moritz Koch, Nightmare in Paradise – Photography
Closed roads, numerous vintage cars, elaborate costumes and up to 150 performers – all for a great work of photographic art. Under the title NIGHTMARE IN PARADISE, we will be showing photographic works by the young Mainz-based photo director and artist Moritz Koch from 16 September to 28 October 2023. In his new, ten-part photo series, he tells the story of the extraterrestrial being Minerva, who comes to Earth to sensitise people to existential matters.
The 21st century is a time of profound change: People are increasingly seduced by the lure of populism, fleeing from the growing complexity of the world, and our societies are splitting in the face of a global crisis. How will we look back on our present in the future?
This is one of the questions that the young photo director Moritz Koch (*2000 in Mainz) explores in his new series NIGHTMARE IN PARADISE, which he worked on for three years, and invites the viewer on a journey into the future.
In the process, he tells of the extraterrestrial being Minerva, who comes to Earth to sensitise people to existential matters. In the large-format works, staged down to the smallest detail, he processes visions of the future, from utopia to dystopia: speed, the search for meaning, the mania for optimisation or climate change are just as much themes as the reflection of interpersonal structures and conflicts. As a purely rationally created being, Minerva increasingly comes into conflict with human emotion during her stay on Earth and realises that political influence, discourse and decisions are made more emotionally and relentlessly than ever before. But this is not the only reason why her mission threatens to fail: almost omnipotent powers try to stop Minerva’s activism – at any price.
The story of Minerva is told fragmentarily in ten large-format photographs – from Minerva’s arrival to Minerva’s wedding to her funeral – with the artist addressing one or more of his main themes in each work, which can also stand independently of the other works in the series. What is special about Moritz Koch’s art, apart from the huge production effort, is that he tells a well thought-out story with his works, into which the viewers can imagine themselves. Similar to a concept album in music, the works in the exhibition are works in the exhibition hang together, although each work can also stand on its own.
Stylistically, the artist works with a contrast between past and future. Inspired by the 50s and 60s, the aesthetics are by no means chosen at random, but are part of the narrative: the people depicted in Moritz Koch’s world of images take refuge from complex problems and a lack of emotion in a superficial nostalgia. Even today, a veritable recycling is taking place in pop culture – in fashion, music or design, it is impossible to imagine life without the “vintage” trend. At the same time, the works are not as nostalgic and harmonious as they might seem at first glance: when Minerva’s wedding is staged as a “crime scene” or in “In Happiness We Die” an unknown creature arrives through the field, something is wrong, one stumbles and grapples with the work. As a viewer, you can come back to the photographs again and again because they critically address issues that affect humanity as a whole in the long term.
The digitally shot photographs are elaborately staged like a film: dozens of vintage cars, countless props, special costumes and up to 150 actors with special SFX make-up are staged for a single photo after months of preparation. Nothing is left to chance, so that detailed works of art are created that always reveal new details even after prolonged viewing – like large hidden object pictures.
Bringing people together and inspiring them to exchange ideas is particularly important to Moritz Koch – especially in times of social division. Already in the process of creating his works, countless people, most of them volunteers, help to realise the artist’s ideas. Not only professionals are involved on the set: a colourful gathering of people from the most diverse fields, both in front of and behind the camera, creates a special dynamic that welds people together. In this way, people who have previously had little or no interest in art are introduced to it, and by participating in the creation of the works, the inhibition threshold to visit galleries or other places of art and to deal with it is overcome.
The exhibition is accompanied by multimedia content, for example making-of videos of the productions. In addition, a 360° photograph will be presented via VR glasses – with this, the artist attempts to overcome the distance between the work and the viewer and thus create an immersive art experience. The insights behind the scenes of the productions are intended to make Moritz Koch’s works more accessible.
Moritz Koch (*2000 in Mainz) is a self-taught photo artist and “photo director”. He discovered staged photography for himself at the age of 16. After several smaller exhibitions, he had a very successful solo exhibition at the age of 18 in the 800 m² gallery of the Mainz Town Hall. With his large-format photographs, however, the young artist not only wants to inspire people with appealing aesthetics and trigger emotions, but also to tell moving stories, bring people together and encourage an exchange of ideas. As in the process of creating his works, the focus is also on people in terms of content. The aesthetics of his works, to which he himself ascribes a “post-futuristic character”, have a nostalgic effect. Visual references to the Space Age or Jackie Kennedy can be found as well as allusions to the American photographer Gregory Crewdson.
Moritz Koch lives and works in Mainz.
More information on Moritz here.
Friday, 15 September 2023, 19.00 h
Vernissage. The artist will be present.
Saturday, 16 September, 16.00 h
Artist talk & guided tour
Thursday, 05 October 2023, 19.00 h
Pre-release of “Spark Like Living Mothers” by two-time Grammy Award winner Simon Goff, presented by the vinyl art label GRAND CHESS.
Saturday, 28 October 2023, 16.00 h
Finissage, artist talk & guided tour
Moritz Koch, Nightmare in Paradise
16 September – 28 October 2023
Vernissage: Friday, 15 September 2023, 19.00 h
Where: nüüd.berlin gallery, Kronenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin-Mitte, U Stadtmitte
Open: Thursday – Saturday, 13.00 – 19.00 h