“Auftakt” is the upward stroke made by conductor, a gesture that comes in the moment when music does not begin to sound yet. It’s a gesture made in silence, but combining full information about time of performance, tempo and semantic fullness of music, it’s stroke and character of the sound.
“Auftakt” in English, means Prelude. A prelude is described as an introductory performance, action or event preceding the principal (or more important) matter. Roman Drits’ work is concerned with intermediacy and achieving a connection to the intangible, alluring space that lies just before, or between, events or states - his attraction is to the “silence and calmness that can be felt in one second before the storm comprises the great anxiety.” The consistently grainy black and white photographs exude silent motion and offer a presage to unfinished events –here we find a continuous collection of moments before moments, before the happened and the happening, each one a precursor to the next ‘non-moment’.
The view through Drits’ lens is blurred and unfocused and aesthetically challenges what we think we know, what we imagine we see and what we are told is visible. Shifting through each hauntingly poetic photograph – from bodies and hands to windows and animals, an immersive darkness ties them all together.Sated with melancholic uncertainty and quiet equipoise, ‘Auftakt’ is a visual meditation on everyday life, taken during 2005-2010 using analogue techniques on 35mm, 120mm and a mobile phone camera. The wider context of time and location of the images - though important - is not, Drits says, the foremost aspect of the project. That being said, it is interesting to note that the photographs were all taken in the artists’ home country of Latvia, in a time foreshadowing the imminent political and economical crisis. This is an ode to what comes immediately before dissonance and disturbance.
For Drits, “Auftakt” is an “instantly disappearing fragment of time” that occurs infinitely, and mirrors the endless reflective motion of ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’. This is a complex, metaphysical body of work with meanings reflecting and refracting back and forth upon themselves.
In physics, there is a moment of equilibrium where an object thrown is neither falling, nor rising – the net force acting on the body is balanced and thus a state of absolute rest occurs. This very notion is mirrored in the upward stroke of the conductor (that in turn, acts as a metaphor for the wider ideas of the project) – for an infinitely small moment of time the motion is suspended, though holding full information of what is to follow. Auftakt is so saturated with opposing forces and “paradoxical opposite feelings”, yet the piece is enveloped in a static, yet charged silence. There are things to come, this much we can be sure of.