April 1, 2010 - May 2, 2010
“These photographs are not an attempt to recreate an imagined past. The photographs in Silent Warriors are 21st-century images of 21st-century people… These are my relations.” -Thomas King, Cherokee
Like many young boys of his generation, Eric Klemm grew up in Germany entranced by romantic tales of Native Americans, like those told by novelist by Karl May in his popular Wild West books. Decades later, as a practicing photographic artist in his sixties, Klemm found himself picking up a thread from Edward Curtis’s late nineteenth-century enterprise of documenting the “Vanishing Race” of Native Americans through film and photography. Setting out to make “three hundred portraits of men, women, and children in a style that is contemporary, straight forward, and vital,” Klemm employed a simple white backdrop, and photographed each person in natural light as soon as he met them: at the supermarket, at a ceremony or sporting event, or just passing on the street.
While Silent Warriors may evoke the romantic portraits which inspired their creation, Klemm’s images invite us to witness the tragedy, humor, desperation, and hope of contemporary Native life: “Through the face of the North American Indian I am looking for a reflection of the entire human condition.”
Eric Klemm, a member of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie, began his career studying graphic design and subsequently turned to photography in 1968. As an affiliate of the German magazine Twen, he contributed to many of Germany’s top magazines for more than a decade. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across Canada, Europe, and the US. Silent Warriors was published as a monograph by Steidl (2009), and was recognized with prizes from PX3, Prix de la Photographie Paris (2007) and International Photography Awards/Lucie Awards (2007). Klemm, named as one of Photolucida’s Critical Mass 2006 “Top 50 Photographers,” lives and works on Salt Spring Island near Vancouver, British Columbia.