Aura Research

Berlin based artist collaborators Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani made Aura Research in 1996-1997, while exploring missing persons together with erased buildings. They include a photograph of Erich Honecker’s former USSR secret police office. Fischer and el Sani, as do Jane and Louise Wilson, explore spirit-of-place and uncanny atmospheres in colour documentary style photographic prints. However, Fischer and el Sani also explore the aural outline or traces of missing people, missing homes and missing public places. Twin-set photographs for each subject combine a documentary photo with an aura photo. In Aura Research the subject is photographed twice, with different technologies attuned to different sensitivities. One camera takes a documentary photograph and then another camera takes a Kirlian photograph. In the Kirlian technique, based on mapping electromagnetic intensities, the outline of a leaf keeps the aural outline of the original even after it has been torn. Besides the act of collaboration, which can be inherently telepathic as shown by Abramovic/Ulay, Gilbert & George, Charles Green and Jacquelene Drinkall, Fischer and el Sani explicitly explore telepathy in art through their use of the high frequency Kirlian photography, evoking an abstract aura of phantom loss, as an ‘invisible’ double of the documentary photograph. Boris Groys observes that Fischer and el Sani’s abstract Kirlian pictures become ‘documentary’ because of the concept of ‘aura.’ “It appears as a photographic document of profane enlightenment which has occurred at a certain time and place.”1

Be supernatural (excerpt 45 sec.) from studio fischerelsani on Vimeo.


  1. Boris Groys, “The Aura of Profane Illumination [Nina Fischer + Maroan el Sani],” 2002 Sydney Biennale (the world may be) Fantastic, by Richard Grayson et al., ed. Ewen McDonald (Sydney: Biennale of Sydney, 2002) 77-80, 79.