Into the woods: a Russian photographer goes shooting in the dark forests of Germany

11 March 2015

The flash makes out weird constructions in the pitch darkness, bringing to mind images of border towers. The series Nachtgestelle (Night Scaffolds) creates a mystical sensation, an affective relation to the captured object — what the critic Michael Fried might term “absorption”. Muscovite Ira Alaeva took these photographs of German shooting hides in the anaemic wintertime to avoid any distracting details. She was inspired by the Neuen Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) photographic style, but unlike the typical works of this school, Alaeva chose colour photography. That was an attempt to retain the emotional value of the pictures, and her vision of these wooden perches seems to be touchingly intimate. “I am struck by their architectural variety and their inherent beauty,” writes Alaeva. “On the other hand, there is something uncanny in these tower-like constructions, especially at night.” Each of the photographs in Nachtgestelle has a title, reflecting the artist’s association with the object: “Stairs”, “Shining”, “Warrior”, “Nest”. After all, these images magnetically attract the eyes, just as shelter attracts the lonely wanderer in the woods.