Schatten werfen keine Schatten
14 Mar - 19 Apr 2008
Anne Collier, Roe Ethridge, Annette Kelm, Eileen Quinlan, Melanie Schiff
14.03.2008 - 19.04.2008
We are glad to present five positions in contemporary photography with the group show „ Shadows Don’t Cast Shadows“. Young exponents from America and Germany are being shown, whose methods have the distinction of being formally objective and subtly narrative. Standing close to conceptual art (being the successive generation), they examine the question of representation and reproduction, and pursue photography’s media-attributed truth claim with individual interpretations. In doing so, the adaptation of a given reality emerges as the shadow of the real, figuratively speaking. The artists pick fragments of everyday culture mimetically and transfer them into an unusual context. Objectivity and the irritation of expectations function as tools to enable a new, divergent view of the portrayed object.
Anne Collier works with staged and found material, primarily taken from print media. In “Eye (Hot Foil Stamping)” she confronts the viewer with an eye taken from a book on printing techniques. Collier works in a highly conceptual manner, but simultaneously integrates a narrative aspect into the scene with her choice of subject matter: a freehand drawing, the gaze of an eye, the page of a book. Collier’s work is characterized by the intimacy that she discovers in universally valid images, which she then masks. With the aid of repetition she questions typologies, while opening a viewing window that marks the individual in the random. Carried by a painterly air she objectifies the anonymous and neutral, she shoots images like photograms, and without comment allows them to become cinematic sequences in the viewer’s mind. Anne Collier’s photographs play with memory, she grants the registration of a personal view into foreign images.
On a formal level Annette Kelm relates composed contexts in her conceptual photographs. The artist shows quietly posed perspectives, which visualise the passing of time, while revealing the stagedness of these arrangements with cautious interventions. In her occupation with presence and absence she often integrates historically meaningful artefacts. “Untitled (Organ)” depicts a Wurlitzer organ from 1929, an instrument conceived to accompany silent movies. Due to a Joan Miro print included in the setting, Kelm alternates between pure depiction and narration, which doesn’t foreclose a contentual reference to modernism. The laying of tracks can be taken literally: In formally aesthetic pictures like “Seiler Meteorit Piano 116” the artist not only shows a design relic from 1998, but also presents a thoughtfully composed scene through graphic applications. The staging of details, which takes place in interchanging difference and repetition, makes Annette Kelm’s photographs into testimonials that comment on the serial in their own way, declaring it to be an autonomous object.
Roe Ethridge may be considered a photographer located between advertisement and conceptual art. His images are oriented towards fashion and landscape photography; they shift between the poles of generally applicable themes and the exceptional, whereby he understands photography as the mediator between an idea and a picture. Closely connected to the field of print media, Ethridge arranges narrative image compilations using editorial methods. A display shows his photographs “Boat Interior”, “Studio Wall(White)”, “LA Backyard (Polaroid)” and “Dawn Patrol” in a rearranged context, resembling the layout of a lifestyle magazine. In this he follows up on a breach with isolated viewing, demonstrating the complexity of viewing possibilities with recombination and montage. To see the subjects as such via contextualisation can be seen as Roe Ethridge’s concern. Not to recognise the originality itself, but the originality of the re-creation is what Ethridge exacts from the viewer in his tableaux. Within the medium of photography it is intrinsic for him to operate less with the term uniqueness, than to emphasize the special value of the specific anchored in a context.
The subject of Eileen Quinlan’s photography is photography itself. Aspiring to objectivity, accentuating a geometrical, cubistic stylistic vocabulary, Quinlan’s work features a strongly formalistic working process. She has been working on the series “Smoke and Mirrors” since 2004, which are created as serial repetitions of analog studio shots, but with varying implementations. Quinlan arranges mirrors, colored foils, a smoke machine and according lighting in an experimental set-up on a table-like artifice. The artist sees herself as the director of the uncertain: The construction is defined by her, but the form of the actual image is shaped by moments of coincidence. These shots, taken between control and chaos are developed by her, and specified by numbering. In this Quinlan addresses the production techniques of classical photography studios, and furthers them with the integration of individual procedures. She manages to bridge the gap between established practises and contemporary methods without digitally manipulating her pictures. The negative functions as the trace of the actual, existent picture, but not as proof of the chance image.
Diametrically opposed to this, Melanie Schiff tells narrative short stories in her work, and allows a lyrical visual language to develop. Her photographs are compositions of formal structures, paired with playfully orchestrated lightness, which do not rule out melodramatic elements. Schiff feels strongly attached to music, and often integrates symbols taken from youth culture within her work. The use of contemporary artefacts manifests itself, for example, in the piece “Untitled (Cases)” a sequence of empty CD covers, flooded with light, connecting the body of the object with its surroundings, and distinguishing interstices with visible rays of light. With dramatic gestures of human bodies in quiet, secluded settings, Schiff’s photographs are staged rather cinematically. The piece “Cannon Falls (Cobain Room)” proves that context knowledge is also decisive here. The diptych shows the interior of the hotel room that Kurt Cobain spent his last hours in. Schiff animates the scene with the body of a naked woman, leaving the room over the veranda, letting the curtain fall behind her.
She delivers the end of the story to the viewer, and opens up a new space at the same time, a space that develops through her pictorial view.