Camera Austria International

98 | 2007

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  • ARNO VAN ROOSMALEN
    Călin Dan: Emotional Architecture
  • CALIN DAN
  • WOLFGANG BRÜCKLE
    Timm Rautert: A Conversation about "Deutsche in Uniform" and Other Fields of Work
  • TIMM RAUTERT
  • BRETT ASHLEY KAPLAN
    Susan Silas: On "Helmbrechts walk"
  • SUSAN SILAS
  • KIRSTY BELL
    Christine Würmell
  • CHRISTINE WÜRMELL
  • RAINER BELLENBAUM
    Change of Dispositif

Preface

In his essay “Imperial Landscape”, W.J.T. Mitchell explores landscape “as a place of amnesia and erasure, a strategic site for burying the past and veiling history with natural beauty'”. For the artist Susan Silas and her project “Helmbrechts walk, 1998 – 2003”, on the contrary, it acts as a possible place of decoding violence, and in her work she uses it to call for opposition to amnesia. In this series of photos, combined to create a folder, Silas documents sections of the route of a death march of 580 Jewish women, going from Helmbrechts in Bavaria to then Czechoslovakia, shortly after the end of the War in spring 1945. Fifty-three years after this event, Silas re-walked these women’s path. She combines the drama of this march with violence-laden news from the same period and thus accomplishes a complex artistic analysis of this greatest catastrophe of the twentieth century. Author Brett Ashley Kaplan reads the theories of W.J.T. Mitchell and the art of Susan Silas against and next to each other, working out congruencies and differences, but also, in the end, showing us that the pictures in Silas’ “Helmbrechts walk” uncover the frequent veiling of violence in the traditional representation of landscape, that they thus question the potential of landscape as a scene of amnesia and, at the same time, are capable of liberating landscape tradition from its aesthetic fouling by Fascist ideology.

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Camera Austria International 98 | 2007
Preface

In his essay “Imperial Landscape”, W.J.T. Mitchell explores landscape “as a place of amnesia and erasure, a strategic site for burying the past and veiling history with ‘natural beauty'”. For the artist Susan Silas and her project “Helmbrechts walk, 1998 – 2003”, on the contrary, it acts as a possible place of decoding violence, and in her work she uses it to call for opposition to amnesia. In this series of photos, combined to create a folder, Silas documents sections of the route of a death march of 580 Jewish women, going from Helmbrechts in Bavaria to then Czechoslovakia, shortly after the end of the War in spring 1945. Fifty-three years after this event, Silas re-walked these women’s path. She combines the drama of this march with violence-laden news from the same period and thus accomplishes a complex artistic analysis of this greatest catastrophe of the twentieth century. Author Brett Ashley Kaplan reads the theories of W.J.T. Mitchell and the art of Susan Silas against and next to each other, working out congruencies and differences, but also, in the end, showing us that the pictures in Silas’ “Helmbrechts walk” uncover the frequent veiling of violence in the traditional representation of landscape, that they thus question the potential of landscape as a scene of amnesia and, at the same time, are capable of liberating landscape tradition from its aesthetic fouling by Fascist ideology.

When Kaplan elaborates in her contribution on Susan Silas that the forest was a significant Nationalist leitmotif for German culture, then this interpretation could also no doubt be applied, in a modified form, to the phenomenon of uniform. A project by Timm Rautert from 1974 – 1975 appears all the more interesting against this background: “Deutsche in Uniform” (Germans in uniform). In an interview with Rautert, author Wolfgang Brückle focuses on this series of photos and other fields of the artist’s work. Rautert’s work revolves around his inquiring view of the areas of social life and production that are driven out of the public eye, and the subtitle of a recent series could head the majority of his works: “Excursions to the unknown society in which we live” (1995). In his documentary and conceptual photography, Rautert is concerned with working out a specific habitual aspect, attitudes and obediences to authority, the individual who could hide in his uniform and disappear in the masses. The aspect to what extent something specifically German appears in an intensified form in the uniform also occupied the artist in this work.

With a contribution by Arno van Roosmalen on the work of Romanian artist Calin Dan, we would like to present the final Camera Austria contribution to the documenta 12 Magazine project for discussion in this issue. For one year now – for example in the analysis of the social-activist and photo-political work of Jo Spence (Camera Austria No. 94/2006), with the project for a national image archive for Kurdistan by American artist Susan Meiselas (Camera Austria No. 95/2006), with the project of the “NSK Garde” by the Slovene artist group IRWIN (Camera Austria No. 96/2006), with the image-political subjects of German concept artist Anna Oppermann (Camera Austria No. 96/2006), and most recently with the enactments of body language by Estonian artist Mark Raidpere (Camera Austria No. 97/2007) – we have been discussing one of the key subjects of our work under this project: the social uses of photography based on examples of artistic positions. We are now presenting the work of Calin Dan to conclude the aforementioned contributions to the question posed by documenta 12 “What is bare life?”, submitting them to our readers for critical reading.

Calin Dans artistic work must be seen against the backdrop of the difficult political situation of the Ceausescu regime in Romania, that induced the historian Calin Dan to speak out politically from the beginning. At a very early stage, he therefore attempted not only to establish a forum for his own artistic work by means of his art-political interventions, but also engaged in work as a curator and art/culture critic. Soon after the revolution in December 1989, he took over management of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art in Bucharest in 1992, within a very short time advancing to become one of the central figures of the Romanian art scene – only to leave Romania shortly afterwards. All the same, he continues to focus almost exclusively on the history, structure and architecture of Bucharest and Romania in his artistic work. His photographs and video works – that are often based on a performative approach, and that he sums up with the concept “emotional architecture” – combine very personal moments in his relationship to the city, to the variously open folkloristic tradition of his country, to historical events, that he links with an analysis of the existing (power) architecture, as our author Arno van Roosmalen explains: “Calin Dan?s approach can be characterised as a mixture of analytical investigation and sensitivity. He focuses on the use, the experience, the meaning and the emotional value of architecture and urban environments. Through his observations of the city, his explorations of neighbourhoods, his contacts with dwellers and visitors, and through his research into traditions, he develops an almost psychoanalytical way of looking at things.”

We already showcased the work of Christine Würmell at the exhibition “First the artist defines meaning” at Camera Austria’s exhibition space in Kunsthaus Graz in summer last year. Her work combines various quotations from the field of contemporary art history and the field of current everyday culture, society and politics to create a compact tableau of narratives with which the artist constructs new situations and opens up surprising spaces for thought. By thinking and bringing together different systems of reference from art and (mediatised) everyday life in a complex manner, she creates a foil against which to open up space for new narrations of the political and of re-politicising aesthetic discourses. A key factor in her multi-part installation for Graz, “Who’s Afraid of Magenta, Yellow and Blue?”, was working with “paint bombs”, that she threw against the exhibition room wall. The patches of colour created in this performative process served as a basis for the stories that she constructed, and that Kirsty Bell took as a starting point for her introduction to the work of this Berlin-based artist.

In the four-part column beginning in this issue, our author Rainer Bellenbaum deals with the variable dispositifs of the cinema and exhibition space and the associated artistic, dramatic and narrative practices: How does the juxtaposition of moving images (in the dark) and exhibited images (in the light) produce the division of the sensorial sphere? What aspects of new subjectification does the variable visualisation give rise to? For the first part of his column, he focuses, for example, on the modes of presenting the photographs and films of French documentarist Raymond Depardon.

Finally, we would like to draw your attention to Art Basel and Art Forum in Berlin, where you will find a Camera Austria stand this year once again. Camera Austria will also be on show for 100 days in Kassel during the course of the documenta 12 Magazine project: We invite you to take part in discussions and lectures at the documenta hall, continuing the critical discourse on artistic practice with our artists, authors and readers in a public forum.

Christine Frisinghelli

Entries

Forum

NICOLE BOGENDORFER

LIZ COCKRUM

MICHELLE SANK

MARRIGJE DE MAAR

ANNE LASS

JOSEF KLEINE

JEANNE FRISCIA

ROBERT BALL

Exhibitions

Regarder VU. Magazine Photographique 1928 – 1940
MIRIAM ROSEN

Abstracts of Syn
MANISHA JOTHADY

FERRY RADAX: Fotografische Arbeiten 1995 – 1970 / Konzeptuelle Fotografie aus Sammlungsbesitz
TANIA HÖLZL

Fotografie aus Kroatien: PETAR DABAC, MARE MILIN
MANISHA JOTHADY

HERWIG KEMPINGER: Digital Sky and Flat Space
MAREN RICHTER

L’Événement. Les images comme acteurs de l’histoire
STEVEN HUMBLET

ANDREAS GURSKY
KERSTIN STREMMEL

MIROSLAV TICHݝ: Photographs
CLINT BURNHAM

The Maghreb Connection. Movements of Life across North Africa
SØNKE GAU

Female Diaspora. Global Feminisms. New Directions in Contemporary Art
RACHEL BAUM

CERITH WYN EVANS: Bubble Peddler
JENS ASTHOFF

Dutch Eyes. A Critical History of Photography in the Netherlands / Panorama Las Palmas

Prater – Ein Film von ULRIKE OTTINGER
RAINER BELLENBAUM

The Ghosts of Songs. A Retrospective of the BLACK AUDIO FILM COLLECTIVE
ANNETT BUSCH

Books

Kunst in der Schwebe.
Wolfgang Tillmans: Manual
Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Köln 2007
MARTIN PRINZHORN

Alexander Kluge: Geschichten vom Kino.
Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2007
KRYSTIAN WOZNICKI

Kunst ausstellen, aufstellen oder abstellen?
Spektakel – Kunst – Gesellschaft.
Guy Debord und die Situationistische Internationale.
Verbrecher Verlag, Berlin 2006
GISLIND NABAKOWSKI

Gilles Saussier: Studio Shakhari bazar.
Le Point du Jour Éditeur, Cherbourg 2006
ANNE BERTRAND

Xavier Ribas: Santuario.
Editorial Gustavo Gili, Barcelona 2005
ALBERTO MARTÍN

Imprint

Publisher: Manfred Willmann. Owner: Verein CAMERA AUSTRIA, Labor für Fotografie und Theorie
All: Lendkai 1, A-8020 Graz.

Editors Graz: Christine Frisinghelli, Tanja Gassler, Simone Kocsar
Editor Berlin: Maren Lübbke-Tidow

Copy editing: Marie Röbl
Translations: Wilfried Prantner, Richard Watts, John Doherty, Don Mader, Josephine Watson, Marina Vishmidt