Boris Eldagsen

The Poems

Works Bio

In his neo-surrealist photographs, Boris Eldagsen is concerned with an apparently paradoxical question: how can the visible and tangible material that the world offers serve to represent something as impalpable as the unconscious? With his pictures, the photographer opens a window to an inner reality, and he points to psychological structures that lie beyond space and time, beyond experienced reality. It is like a fantastic dream – a dream anyone could have: Eldagsen wants the onlookers to be aware of their own emotions and memories, their own unconscious.

What is reality, what is truth? Boris Eldagsen soon found that even the experts for these fundamental questions, philosophers, can not agree upon a correct answer; consequently, in his own work field, he rejects traditional documentary photography. Instead, he developed an interest in more open and disputable areas, from religion, mysticism and magic to romanticism, symbolism to the psychoanalysis of C. G. Jung.

Asked about models, he can – except for some Japanese – hardly mention any photographers, instead he sees himself as an artist working with photography. He refers to painters such as Hieronymus Bosch, Rembrandt, William Blake, Arnold Böcklin and Max Ernst, as well as the movies by Peter Greenaway and the Chilean surrealist Alejandro Jodorowsky. „A photographer has to stick to conventions, technical rules,“ he says, „but as an artist I can break all the rules.“

As staged as the photographs might look: Eldagsen does not need a studio, he can work anywhere, without major efforts. His main tool for interferences and changes is light, coming from natural as well as artificial sources. And, of course, the other side of light is darkness: almost all his photographs are conceived as nocturnal scenes; indeed, at night the world does appear transformed – which, again, leads us to Eldagsen’s central issue, the dreamlike, unreal, subjective. Also, in practical terms, darkness has the advantage that the photographer can eliminate easily anything that does not fit into his concept.

These pictures do not tell clear, linear stories; they rather are like a conversation with one’s own emotions and rememberances. The photographer calls this series The Poems. Like poems, the photos have an open, ambiguous structure; they deal with the mysterious, associative that reaches deep into mental and physical memories. These photographs should be perceived and interpreted less with the mind but rather with heart and soul, they pose more questions than they give answers. Boris Eldagsen comments: „When I began to study art and philosophy in 1991, I hoped to find answers to eternal questions. Now that I’ve realised the impossibility of this, I concentrate on refining those questions and enjoying not having answers.“

Please see Boris Eldagsen’s works in our exhibitions Just Photographs and Figures & Faces, Part 1.



1970born in Munich
1991-92Media and drama, philosophy and German studies, Albertus-Magnus-Universität Cologne
1994Sarojini Naidu School of Performing Arts (Prof. Laxma Goud), Fine Arts & Communication, Hyderabad, India
1995Conceptual Art, Intermediate Studies (Prof. Miloš Šejn, Prof. Milan Knížák )
Academy of Fine Arts, Prague
1992-98Visual arts (Prof. Vladimir Spacek, Prof. Klaus Vogelgesang), Akademie für Bildende Künste Mainz; Philosophy, Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
2013Master class Roger Ballen, Photofestival Belfast

Since 2004 Boris Eldagsen a great number of lectures, workshops and guest professorships in Mainz, Melbourne, Edinburgh, Leipzig, Vienna, Frankfurt on Main, Hamburg and Berlin.

solo shows (selection)

2015The POEMS, Kommunale Galerie, Berlin
2014The POEMS, Galerie Voies Off, Arles, France
2009Monitoring, Kunstverein Kassel, Fridericianum, Kassel
2008No Cure, Australian Centre of Photography, Sydney, Australia
2007I took a deep breath, Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Australia


Group Shows (selection)

2016Singapore International Photography Festival, Singapore
SUPERHIGH Yourself, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn
Projektion – Fotografische Behauptungen, Kunsthalle Darmstadt
2015Sacro E Profano, Photolux Biennale, Lucca, Italy
Festival International de Fotografia, Belo Horizonte, Brasil
PULSE, Noorderlicht Festival, Groningen, Netherlands
Festfoto, Porto Algre, Brasil
Evidence, Format International Photography Festival, Derby, UK
2014Hope & Faith, Encontros da Imagem, Braga, Portugal
Young Art Night, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands
2013Whatever happened to God?, Halle 14, Leipzig
2012MAK Oracle Nite, Museum für angewandte und Gegenwartskunst, Vienna, Austria
Expanded Cinema, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Russia
2nd Internet Pavilion for the Venice Biennale, Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, Venice, Italy
2011FestArte VideoArt, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, Rome, Italy
New Media, Sex and Culture in the 21st Century, Museum of New Art, Detroit, USA
2009WRO’09, 13th Media Art Biennale, Wroclaw, Poland
2008Monitoring, Fridericianum Kunstverein, Kassel
2007Körber-Award for photography 2007, Deichtorhallen Hamburg

For further information please see the artist’s website.