Every month for a year, Thomas Lohr made a pilgrimage to Ayrmer Cove in Devon, England. There, below the steep, pasture-topped cliffs, is a natural obelisk of slate reaching out of the Atlantic Ocean. The stone, slick with Channel waters, shivers in sunny hours as if it were an abandoned sundial or forgotten idol. Beach-goers, dog-walkers, residents from nearby Ringmore parish shrug when asked about it: “What Rock?” And so Lohr, encouraged by local indifference, started making monthly visits to establish a relationship with the neglected sight.
Gezeiten documents the photographer’s courtship of the stone and his attempt to uncover more of it with his camera. The rock, whose color and aspect change along with the season and light, weather and tide, transforms over the duration of a year. The influence of the tide—Gezeiten in Lohr’s native German—plays the most regular and dramatic role, robing and disrobing its base in sands and water. Each print of Gezeiten features a numerical stamp, indicating the date, time, and tidal height for each image. The ambitious viewer is invited to use this index to match the stone’s many faces with its environment.
In Himmelblau, Thomas Lohr photographs the clear, cloudless sky from different locations around the world. While the place from which he takes each photo varies dramatically, the photographs themselves are necessarily of the same sky; only close scrutiny reveals subtle variations in light and colour between them. This is Lohr’s purpose. Rather than accenting formal or aesthetic differences between views of the sky, the photographer uses the technology of the camera to evidence their commonality. We all live under the same blue sky. We all look up at the same blue sky. And the act of looking up is perhaps as near to a universal human experience as there is. Himmelblau absorbs its viewer into the sky’s blue immensity without letting them forget where it is that they stand.
The sculptures of Auguste Rodin are well known to the most casual art fan. Over the years, they have drawn the attention of numerous photographers, most of whom treated the sculptures as whole subjects or in relation to their settings. The Musée Rodin provided Thomas Lohr unrestricted access to Rodin’s work to take a different tact. Lohr’s approach to the work is both experiential and analytic. With close-ups and precise framing, the photographer parses forms and accents textures integral to the statues. The approach isn’t entirely without precedent. Rodin himself displayed sculpted body parts—hands, heads, torsos—as independent works of art. In his own time, the severed hands created a scandal. Lohr’s present revisiting of the work aims to draw out nuance, vigor, and detail lost to the dramatic power of the figures or overlooked from overfamiliarity with the great sculptor’s œuvre.
Birds is a study of plumage. Lohr visited 80 birds in aviaries across Europe. Undulating variations of texture, color, layer and light are exposed through photographic close-up, framing, and abstraction. A rare proximity to the animals recasts them as patterned flora or inanimate fauna—avian textiles. Between the decorative, documentary, painterly, and zoological, Birds undercuts our expectations about what we see when looking at these strange creatures before we look again.
March, 2020. Paris entered its first lockdown. City life stopped abruptly. Leaving home required an excuse and was limited to an hour a day within a 1km radius. Thomas Lohr, who had relocated to Paris a few months before, found himself confined to a fifth-floor apartment overlooking the normally busy thoroughfare of rue La Fayette. Blessed with a balcony from which he could watch the streets below, Lohr spent the next two months photographing the city under quarantine from a single vantage on his iPhone.
The resulting project, View Point, is a collaboration between Lohr and Olu Odukoya. Odukoya, who signed-on to the project without first seeing any of the images, treated the cache of Lohr’s photographs as found objects. Odukoya interpolates text and symbols reminiscent of public health signage, bringing into relief the pandemic-era contrast between pestilence and tedium. Here, formerly humdrum activities—grocery-shopping, jogging, dog-walking—have become special privileges and mortal adventures. City streets, once jammed with traffic, have been repurposed by masked pedestrians in efforts to maintain social distance. Within the cross-section of View Point’s Paris, uncertainty lives alongside boredom as if they’ve become features of the urban grid as much as crosswalks and stop lights.