contemporary art / history of art

Hannes Norberg: 27 – A Voyage into extraordinary Landscapes

The German artist Hannes Norberg travels and explores the world and also collects samples of typography. Graphically modified, enlarged and arranged in space, he photographed the samples in natural light. In September 2020, he designed and published a book with 27 new photographs of these silent conversations of characters on paper.

Obviously, the main protagonists of the volume are the images, which show large-sized sheets of paper, printed with Latin, Oriental, Japanese and other characters or numbers. Some are draped flat, some waved, and others slightly fold. Noting the pictures title on the left side of each double page, one might first think of names of typefaces. However, the deeper one enters into Hannes’ world of images, it becomes evident that the titles are place names.

Turning back the pages, already the first photo “Sonnenallee” (Sun Avenue) shows a section of a paper sheet with huge, bold letters, reminiscent of ground plan of Berlin’s historic tenements (Mietskasernen), with its consecutively build courtyards. “Zeeland” features the Dutch region at the seaside. Correspondingly, the letters are photographed in parallel to the image border and proceed backwards slightly undulating into a grey: a view of the relatively calm North Sea all the way to the horizon or does the typographical sample stand for the wavy terrain of the dunes in front of the sea? A hint might be a glance to “Lido”. Whether the Venetian Lido is meant or one of the hundreds of other Lidos in Italy, most of them are situated in a flat landscape which would run straight into the Mediterranean, if there were not the often high-rising tourist buildings on the ground.

Other photographs, apply the undulation differently. For example, also “Shibuya” is also arranged in waves. However, due to the diagonal orientation, it gives the impression of an ascending hill. The positioning of the Japanese characters in lines of white and grey shaded boxes recall a city map of a rectangular planned town. A glance at a street map of Tokyo’s special ward Shibuya reveals similarities. Even the gradient is reflected. Another hilly territory is represented in “Ouro Preto”. The Brazilian city is located on the level of over 1100 metres at the foot of the Espinhaço Mountains. Here again, the gradient is represented by the form of the paper, but photographed from another angle. Moreover, the waves might refer to the outstanding Baroque Portuguese colonial architecture.

In this way, Hannes arranged his 27 places, alternating countries, cities, quarters, rivers and mountains. Furthermore, the sound of the location name influenced the design of the book, so that the title could stand on its own. In consequence, it is not only a subtitle under a photo, but is presented on an individual page beside the image. Hence, every single picture and every title gives an idea of the place, where the typographical sample originates and/or which has impressed the author in some way. The photo refers formally and/or atmospherically to the remembered place.

By using scripture as representative of a landscape, the author hints to its historic culture. The silence of the images remind of the quietness of the library, where the originals once were found. Even though, the arrangements are artificially constructed, made of paper with an imprinted system of abstract characters, the locations are imaginable. Every now and then, one might discover new details, experience the atmosphere or discover a landscape. The title’s sound contributes to this perception. Correspondingly, “27” invites to an exceptional voyage for the senses, which could be repeated as often as one likes.

Hannes Norberg: 27
ISBN 978-3-96912-000-2
September 2020
75 pages with 27 photographs
23 cm x 25 cm
Dr. Cantz’sche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
28 €


Hannes Norberg

Born in 1969 in Worms, Germany, Hannes Norberg studied Fine Arts at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. For his mostly photographic works, he constructs architectural models and landscapes in his studio. He had numerous solo exhibitions in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands and published several artists’ books. Moreover, he participated in many national and international group exhibitions for example in the United States, Great Britain, South Korea, Benin, Brazil, Austria and Australia. Additionally, he was an artist-in-residence in Paris, New York, Florence, Xiamen São Paulo and Seoul.

Since 2008, Hannes is lecturer for artistic photography at several universities in Germany, currently at the University of Cologne. He is cofounder and active member of the Düsseldorf based school for Neue Fotografie (School for New Photography).

Hannes lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.


Last modified at 14:35 on 18/12/2020