Exhibitions: »Hans Hansen. Still Life« and »Optical Illusions. Contemporary Still Life« mit Lucas Blalock, Annette Kelm, Antje Peters, and Oskar Schmidt


C/O Berlin presents the exhibition Hans Hansen . Still Life from 13th July to 10th Sep- tember, 2017. The opening will be on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 at 7 pm in the Amerika Haus, Hardenbergstraße 22–24, 10623 Berlin.

A VW Golf, built in 1988, neatly dismantled into around 7,000 pieces, graphically arranged glass blocks, the silhouette of a ower, or the captured image of a Japanese wooden mask—Hans Hansen’s view of things is greatly reduced, linear, and simultaneously full of energy. He always treats industrially manufactured products, natural objects, and everyday objects with the same precision and dedication. Technical accuracy and graphic minimalism lend the objects a visual life. Since the 1960s hardly any other photographer in the profession has shaped our percep- tion of the everyday world of things as decisively as Hans Hansen.

Hansen was one of the rst photographers to set new aesthetic standards in both independent and applied photography, and to this day, he has been able to combine both elds equally. In 1968 he captured a dismantled Beetle for the well-known Volkswagen campaign by the New York- based agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. In the late 1980s he repeated this project with a Golf on behalf of VW. With this work he gained international recognition and linked advertising photography with visual art and design for the rst time. Hans Hansen prefers to capture inanimate things. The objects in his images are always radically isolated and perfectly illuminated—an absolute must for Hansen. Regardless of whether he photographs products for Porsche, Erco, or Vitra, they are always arranged and structured to meticulously compare the form, colors, and the material of the objects. In addition, his photographs are often created using the positive-negative process.

His focus on materials such as glass and water led to commissions for Tapio Wirkkala and the photo series Glaswasser, in which he visually relates the two organic substances. Hansen’s black-and-white images of hair, convoluted bodies, and carrier snails, as well as his color images of vegetables, fruit, or plant models visualize his fascination for the materiality of individual objects. Characteristic of Hansen’s artistic approach is his minimalistic dramaturgy of light, with which he creates graphic forms and idiosyncratic architectural structures. While he con- siders his commissioned work to be in the realm of applied photography, in the past few years he has increasingly devoted himself to independent studio photography, which he describes it as an experimental eld and creative space where he can play with forms and light, bringing natu- ral objects and human artifacts to the fore.

C/O Berlin is presenting the varied work of this German photographer in Hans Hansen . Still Life, which includes both his independent and commissioned works. The selection offers an

overview of the material and sensual quality of his objects, as well as of his artistic and technical production of images, leading us through the visualization of still-life photography of indus- trial, artisanal, and natural objects.

The exhibition was curated by Felix Hoffmann and Hendrik Schwantes. An accompanying book will be published by Spector Books, Leipzig, with texts by Hartmut Böhme, Hannes Böhringer, Falk Haberkorn, Axel Kufus, Juhani Pallasmaa, and Anna Voswinckel.

Hans Hansen born in 1940 in Bielefeld, studied “applied graphics” at the Düsseldorf Art Academy after an apprenticeship as a lithographer. He is a self-taught photographer. Since the beginning of the sixties, he has been working as an independent photographer in Hamburg for renowned companies such as American Express, Audi, Bulthaup, Daimler Benz, Dibbern, Erco, Kodak, Lufthansa, Siemens, Vitra, and VW. His images also appear in well-known German and international journals, specialist magazines and magazines such as GEO Magazin, Greenpeace Magazin, Mare, Stern, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin and ZEITmagazin.


C/O Berlin is presenting the exhibition entitled Optical Illusions . Contemporary Still Life with works by Lucas Blalock, Annette Kelm, Antje Peters and Oskar Schmidt from July 13th to September 10th, 2017. The opening will be held on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017, at 7 pm in the Amerika Haus in Hardenbergstraße 22-24, 10623 Berlin.

Set tables, elaborate floral arrangements, ostentatious compositions of books, trophies, glasses, and instruments count among the well-known motifs of classical still lifes and have for centuries been a canon of European art history. These once precious and symbolically charged objects have gradually given way to everyday objects. Meanwhile, perfume bottles, marbles, soft candy, hair shampoo, Starbucks cups, and pizza boxes are the objects of today’s still lifes.

The traditionally picturesque subject is currently experiencing a renaissance in contemporary photography, breaking down the distinctions between artistically arranged still life on the one hand and commercial product photography on the other.

Even artists of the 1920s and ’30s such as Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy or Florence Henri experimented with the camera in a studio setting and created new forms of still life that were used as both artistic and advertising photos. Hans Hansen, whose exhibition entitled Still Life is being shown in dialogue with Optical Illusions . Contemporary Still Life, successfully continued this approach from the 1970s on as artistic product photography. Today, advertising and prod- uct photography belong to the visuals of everyday life in our digitized society, once again making the still life an attractive genre for young artists. In this way, artistic arrangements beyond the depicted subject are explored: new technical possibilities are explored, visual codes are reduced to absurdity, and our habits of thinking and perception are investigated in a time in which making and publishing pictures has become commonplace for nearly everyone.

The exhibition Optical Illusions . Contemporary Still Life curated by Ann-Christin Bertrand at C/O Berlin will present four artistic positions through the works of Lucas Blalock, Annette Kelm, Antje Peters, and Oskar Schmidt that do not just reassess the genre in a media sense, but rather also bring it up to date artistically. They all share an impressive precision and strict methodical formalization and use them to dissolve artistic conventions. By using both the rhetorics and aesthetics of everyday photography and at the same time questioning the mechanisms for the creation of photographic images, they open new spaces of thought and perception and readdress the differing conditions of digital image production and the aesthetic norms of photography.

The American photographer Lucas Blalock demonstrates the work process that goes on behind his photographs. Equally interested in both the history and the possibilities of photography, he starts with classical studio photography using an analogue large-format camera, and then scans the negatives and processes them digitally. Instead of disguising the digital pro- cesses, he leaves them perceivable, creating unique hybrid forms between traditional repre- sentations of objects and total alienation. His works thus reflect not only contemporary production methods of photographic images, but also seeing and the complexity of photographic reality.

Annette Kelm is also interested in approaching our optical perception. Drawing on the artistic conventions of advertising photography, like Elad Lassry or Roe Etheridge, her arrangements seem generally cold and calculated. Her photographs are created using the means of industrial and advertising photography. Instead of placing her objects on a neutral background, Annette Kelm often makes the background itself into the subject of the image. Whatever seems to stem from reality is then converted into a formally developed hyperreality, which then loses its legibility. But the strict orientation of formal criteria, the elimination of narrative elements, and the deliberate irritation caused by the insertion of collaged props thwarts the viewer. Her photographs thus become new spaces (of thought) that are balanced between pre- cision and ambiguity, space and surface, and objectivity and abstraction.

Antje Peters’s works deliberately deconstruct the concept of perfect high-gloss photography: she paints expensive cosmetic products with felt-tip pens and tapes them into amorphous bundles with adhesive tape that she positions in the middle of the photograph, or she bunch- es colored pencils together with a Swatch wristwatch. A spilled glass of water, exotic fruits, perfume, marbles, currency, and CDs are arranged more chaotically than perfectly choreo- graphed with soft candy, playing cards, and hair shampoo on a black background—she is always interested in the handicraft behind the perfect, smooth, and cold appearance of digital product photography. This artistic departure from known visual strategies in the advertising world is also being reflected in the presentation of her framed works at C/O Berlin, by con- sciously balancing between commercial window display and artistic installation.

Oskar Schmidt’s clear and highly reduced images are reminiscent of classic panel paintings. With mirrorlike surfaces, hidden objects, and isolated portraits, they are the result of careful arrangements. Schmidt often refers to icons of the history of painting and photogra- phy. At the same time, his images refer directly to so-called stock photography—flawless, mass-produced studio images that are available on image databases or from agencies with- out copyright or authorship and are free of charge. However, Schmidt is less concerned with the perfect reproduction of the original or the staging of the object and the figures themselves: he is more interested in photographic translation and artistic variation. His objective and minimalistic photographs bring up questions that go beyond mere reproduction in photography technique.