Anita Beckers

Johanna Reich

25 Jan - 09 Mar 2013

© Johanna Reich
CUT, DVCPRO HD, PAL, 0`30, video still, 2009
Behind The Screen
25 January – 9 March 2013

Officially referred to as a video artist, deep down in her heart Johanna Reich perhaps belongs to the category of the illusionists, such as Georges Méliès or Doug Henning. Like these masters of magic, she can double or make things disappear before the beholder’s eyes. Johanna Reich shares with Georges Méliès, who produced "Journey to the Moon" in 1902 –one of the first science fiction films in the world -, the love for Earth's lonely satellite.
A brief and admittedly rather uneventful video "La Lune" shows for more than five minutes the clouded moon as well as his second, clear brother. In reality a lamp in the hands of Johanna Reich, this simple and yet charming episode was created at night from a roof top. And although the viewer immediately sees through this rather naive trick, the light of the lamp seems indeed warmer, for a brief moment we can trust the illusion that the earth has two companions, with an arm raised, a warmer light stretches to the moon opposite, speaking of the attraction people feel for its eternal companion, an attraction at least as old as the art of painting itself, with its strokes, characters and smoky torches in the cave walls of the stone-age.
In her video work, Johanna Reich combines the new medium with the archaic perception and consciousness of seeing. Attracted by the impressions the night conjures, the artist sometimes shows, throughout her home town Cologne, images of herself projected onto building walls, as she dresses head to toe in black and then disappears onto the created images. Even though these are all optical illusions, they still make clear, like no other effect, how vision works and that the images not always have to do with reality, but arise in our minds. The series about the disappearance of the artist is called "The Presence of Absence ". Other series are named "Crystal" or "Black and White".
Maybe her short film studies at the HfbK Hamburg by Wim Wenders left a lasting impression, as she studied countless silent film material, only to find that she is not a storyteller, and therefore has no interest in the narrative structure of films, but rather an interest in how images are formed. Thus she left film, first changing to painting, a medium which she loves to this day. And up to this day the ideas for her videos are based on sketches and preparatory drawings. However, with the moving image new visual experiences are added: processes become clear; the viewer can see how an image is created and how images can be put into a rhythm. This sometimes assumes a very contemplative character. In "A State of Crystal" she put her camera in a puddle, so we see the refection of the urban landscape. And suddenly Johanna Reich jumps and destroys the order of that image. Sky and houses crumble into color streaks, melting into wild abstract motifs, which calm down after a few minutes the lack of structure becoming again what it reflects: the surrounding environment, which, for Johanna Reich often achives a post-industrial suburban aesthetics: warehouses, wasteland, arches: the modern Platonic caves.
(Text von Grit Weber)

Johanna Reich (*1977, Minden / DE) graduated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg with filmmaker Wim Wenders, and post-graduated at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne.
She received several awards, including the Konrad von Soest Prize in 2011 and the Prize for the best video artist at the Crosstalk Festival in Budapest in 2010. Recent shows include “The Jack Goldstein Connections” at KuK Monschau in 2012, KunstFilmBiennale at KW Berlin and Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2009, Taiwan International Video Art Exhibition at Hong Gah Museum in 2008, the Nam June Paik Award Exhibition at Wallraf-Richartz Museum & Fondation Corboud in Köln in 2008, Bilderschlachten, European Media Art Festival in Osnabrück in 2009, and the Japan Media Arts Exhibition at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in 2007.

Tags: Jack Goldstein, Nam June Paik, Johanna Reich, Wim Wenders