Watching the grace and effortless-seeming style of a play, it’s intriguing to consider the flurry and bustle that happens behind the dark red curtain. For the last few years, Hamburg-born photographer Klaus Frahm has been stripping back Europe’s stages to take incredible shots of theatres from the other side. His photographs reveal cascades of seats framed by the structures that house the lights and mechanics of the show.
Klaus sees photography as “revealing something laying under the surface,” and Looking from Behind: The Fourth Wall gives us a rare chance to appreciate the scale and grandeur of stages without the furore of people and props. The series first started while Klaus was photographing a theatre for an architect. “At one point the stage was completely empty, so I photographed the audience framed by lamps and structures in front of them. It was later on my way home when I looked at the Polaroid of that scene: the red seats were like an image within an image,” Klaus explains.
The contrast between new and old with warm and cold is stark in Klaus’ photographs where the comfy velvet seats and subdued lighting feel grandiose in comparison to the surrounding metal structures and robust scaffolds that sit imposingly in the darkness.
While it’s the scale of these stages that initially interests viewers, Klaus is keen for people to question the whole concept of the stage and their place in it. “The second step is a play of the viewer’s mind. Where they imagine the stage is reality and the audience is the play,” he explains.