With his black-and-white portraits of children and teenagers in Germany and Russia, Ingar Krauss reveals quietly intense moments of transformation and the emotional turmoil just below the surface of life’s thresholds. His young subjects seem to have knowledge and wisdom beyond their years. Despite the mask-like appearance each tries to project, their eyes, faces and postures reveal confusion, frustration, melancholy. They are serious, remote, sad, defiant. They have already seen too much, and the innocence lost is painfully etched into each of these images.
Choosing to photograph children, often times orphans, who have been convicted of crimes and are confined to the juvenile prison system in Russia, Ingar Krauss focuses on children who already have a biography, a story to tell and seem to be responsible in a way that is not childlike. These children stand alone, and in their expression there is often a psychological intensity, a deep longing and reserve that the lens registers.
When taking a portrait, Ingar Krauss tries to find a secret agreement and connection with the girl or boy, in the absence of every language. His photographs are about the psychic space that these young people inhabit and the mystery of their existence. With sensitivity and intuition, he portrays them absorbed in themselves, poignantly defiant, sad or assertive. The spareness of the environment surrounding these children and the fact that they all wear self-sewn uniforms is important for the intensity and truth of the portraits. It reduces these young people to their essence; their individuality is told by their expressions, gestures and inner life.
Ingar Krauss obtains the extraordinary quality of this series - moody, somber, cold and dominated by gray tones - by printing on old Eastern European photo paper and gold toning the prints. Departing from the luscious b&w of his previous work, the quality of these prints matches the somber intensity of his subjects.
A self-taught photographer, Ingar Krauss started to exhibit his photographs in 2001, gaining immediate recognition. This year, he has had solo exhibitions in Italy, Austria and Germany. His work was included in important group shows: Adoleszenz, Fotogalerie Wien, Vienna, Austria; Making Faces: The Death Of The Portrait, MusÈe De L'ElysÈe Lausanne, Switzerland and The Hayward Gallery, London, England. He also participated in the Rome Photography Festival 2004, Rome, Italy and was awarded the Leica Prize during the Fourth Grand Prix International de Photographie, Vevey, Switzerland.
Krauss prints his black-and-white portraits on old photographic paper produced in Eastern Europe, which gives his pictures even more of a melancholy tone. In 2004 the artist received the Leica Prize of the Grand Prix International de Photographie in Vevey.