Mona Kuhn: She Disappeared in Complete Silence

MONA KUHN is a Brazilian photographer with German roots but currently she lives and works in Los Angeles. Her strong creative visual language results from intimacy and a strong interest for the naked form of human bodies. She also likes to experience with visual strategies inspired by her environment. What I really like about her work is the naked sense with a very respectful gaze and her placement of the naked human body in it's most natural state while simultaneously reinventing the nude as a contemporary canon of art. It's the playful combination of color, of light and shadow that makes her photography so interesting for me also the idea of making her subject blurry gives the picture a new reason to exist as something between a photograph and a painting. 


Mona Kuhn was born in Sao Paulo in 1969 and with the age of 20 she started her Bachelor at the Ohio State University and then continued her studies at the San Francisco Art Institute. She is currently an independent scholar at The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.



Her newest work She Disappeared into Complete Silence (2018 / 2019) is a remarkable piece in her whole collection. It was photographed in a glass house where the golden light can enter unobstructed. Kuhn explains that this glass house conceptually represents her own camera and optics. The so house is mostly held together by glass and built by architect Robert Stone. The translucent surfaces also worked as a prism of light for Kuhn. 


"The title of this series was carefully chosen for multiple references", Kuhn explains. It "is a balance between the figure, abstraction and landscape. The world she has unfolding meanings. It refers not just to the single figure, but also the endless horizon lines running into infinity, and the lines rendered from thoughts." (MONA KUHN)  It is also the very first time that we can find abstraction in Kuhn's practice, here she moves between the landscape and the figure, she navigates us between nature and culture, in a sense of meaning and being. In this case She also has unfolding meanings. Kuhn refers not just to the single figure or the human existence, but also the endless horizon lines running into infinity and the lines rendered from thoughts. (MONA KUHN)



Mona Kuhn erased internationally awareness with her first published Book Evidence where she published different nude bodies in every age, but in fact all of them are beautiful without any remarkable value, later she changed that fact and took also photographs of older people or bodies with skin blemishes or scars. In Evidence we see a Come Together of different people with different sexes and we don't know what they're doing, sometimes we can see just a shape or people lying together maybe having sex. They're all nude but not naked and sometimes blurry so we don't see their bodies clear. Somehow it reminds me of a modern painting like the ones of Gerhard Richter but I think every blurry image reminds me of his work.


The people in Kuhn's work are always looking relaxed, they look like feeling comfortable in their own skin and that's what I like about her work. I was never so interested in photographing nudes but after seeing this I don't know why I've never got into that subject. Another very inspirational point is the way of lightning in Kuhn's work, on the one hand she hides so much so that our fantasy can work but on the other hand she let's us see so much more so our fantasy can also dream. I feel a very deep need to print some of her photographs and get them on my wall but also create something with them. If there is one thing I'm very sure about it's the fact that the artwork of Mona Kuhn will not disappear in complete silence.

"I wanted to escape the body and photograph the human presence coming in and out of evidence,

at times over exposed,at times hidden in shadows, like a desert mirage,

a solitary figure who could have been the very first or last."



all photos via: M O N A  K U H N
text: T H E R E S A  L O U