Egypt

In early 2010, Lutter traveled to Egypt to photograph the nation’s ancient monuments. Since professional photography was prohibited at all of the sites, she used a modified travel trunk that held photographic paper to capture the pyramids, temples, and surrounding natural setting. Using a modified trunk as a pinhole camera lent the works a sense of intimacy and charm. Although measuring on average only 14 x 28 inches, these small photographs possess all the authority and mystery of their subjects. Among those sites the artist visited are the pyramids on the Giza plateau just outside of Cairo, the Temple of Kom Ombo in Luxor, the Bent and Red pyramids of Dashur, and the Step Pyramid of Sakkara.

Responding to the desert landscape and its unique quality of light, Lutter produced compositions of ancient structures that feel isolated within the vastness of their environment. Their remoteness is amplified and made even more captivating by her handling of texture and perspective. The White Desert, for example, resembles a field of dried lava, while pyramids and stands of palm trees seem to glow from within against foreboding skies. The enigmatic tonality and haloed edges of Lutter’s trunk-camera prints preserve this air of uncertainty surrounding the iconic Egyptian landscape.

Yet this mystique begins to fade as Lutter does not stage her images but presents the place as it lies when photographed. Closer investigation of the works reveals subtle traces of contemporary activity: one begins to pick out tire tracks in the sand, slowly moving camels, and onlookers that have been caught in the long exposures. Even with such modern signs of life, the significant, paradoxical nature of Lutter’s photographs manifests in images that appear with all the subjectivity of a painting but are, in fact, firmly grounded in the real.