Tag Archives: Max Ernst

The Photographic Dream World of Karin Hillmer

Guest Post by Karin Hillmer

Photography and Storytelling

I love books. Growing up in Germany I enjoyed reading my parents’ Brockhaus, the multi-volume German encyclopedia. These volumes were similar to what Google is for us today, a source of endless discovery to stimulate the imagination. In my photography, which is all about storytelling, I combine my thoughts, fears, hopes and fantasies with the external world around me. Books as visual objects and as a source of discovery—as well as words—have always been important to me and have informed my art. The transitional space between sleeping and waking serves as fertile ground to retrieve thoughts and emotions from the past, question the soul, and weave them into visual impressions and fragments of our material world. It is in this conceptual collage process that I unify these magical worlds to visualize my stories in photographs.

KarinHillmer-Still somewhat unsure, the youth set out to question when existence begins

Still somewhat unsure, the youth set out to question when existence begins, ©Karin Hillmer

KarinHillmer-The armillary rises quietly from the depths of the universe

The armillary rises quietly from the depths of the universe, ©Karin Hillmer

Dreamlike Imagery

Three artists who have most influenced my work and who incorporated dreamlike imagery, actual collage fragments and multi-faceted contemporary material are Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell and Robert Rauschenberg. I was first introduced to their work during my undergraduate studies in art history when I also studied drawing, painting and photography. From the outset, my camera was searching for staged scenes or theatrical set ups and found objects. Sun and daylight are my favorite sources of light as it best describes the tones in my color that I seek.

KarinHillmer-Nobody really expected the compass to cross the veil of illusion

Nobody really expected the compass to cross the veil of illusion, ©Karin Hillmer

KarinHillmer-The Book of Sand, without beginning - without end

The Book of Sand, without beginning – without end, ©Karin Hillmer

Jorge Luis Borges

My series of photographs Infinity & Dreams, which were published as a book under the same name, are inspired by the short stories of the great South American writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. When I initially read his story, “The Book of Sand,” comprised in Collected Fictions, I interpreted the infinite book that Borges describes as analogous to the Internet which grows infinitely; where today’s first page is no longer tomorrow’s.

In this series of photographs, I weave Borges’ narrative into my personal enigmatic imagery, riddles and universal symbols. I combine my fascination with Time with my interest in our present technological world. I explore a moment inspired by memory and fantasy. Each photograph represents a point on a continuum in time with the image titles and symbols often hinting at other dimensions along this path.


Where infinite combinations of the symbols are now and now and now, ©Karin Hillmer