A feature by Cynthia Haven
Music & Literature found photographer Lena Herzog early on a February morning at a San Francisco landmark, the Renaissance Forge. The venue, on a gritty South-of-Market alley, is a marvel: the cavernous dark interior looks like a modern alchemist's lab, with a large open kitchen, cooking utensils, and pots hanging from the ceiling. Jars of herbs and spices line the walls. They share space with red-hot forges, wrought iron, sheets of metal, and iron rods . Blacksmith, hunter, and master chef Angelo Garro, the Sicilian proprietor, is a personal friend of Lena and her husband, the filmmaker Werner Herzog. The Herzogs are in a rush to return to Los Angeles—he has a film schedule and Lena must resume her tours for her newly published Strandbeests: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen. Lena Herzog spent seven years tracking the evolution of a new kinetic species, intricate as insects but dwarfing its creator, a scientist-artist, in size as they roam the beaches of Holland. Her previous book, Lost Souls (2010) takes her back to her Russian roots: Peter the Great purchased and kept a remarkable collection of human and animal anomalies and kept them in the “Cabinet of Wonders,” housed in Russia's first museum on the Neva. But it is the human remains that are the “lost souls”—never alive, not even ghosts, but these Siamese twins and deformed fetuses remain heartbreaking in their eternal vulnerability, preserved in Herzog's humane and intimate photography. But Lena Herzog has a lot more to say in the brief hour before her departure, and not only on her photography . . .