Camera Austria International

67 | 1999

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  • MARTIN PRINZHORN
    Some preliminaries on aspects of cognitive psychology in the works of Jörg Schlick
  • JÖRG SCHLICK
  • JUTTA KOETHER
    Cindy Sherman: Old Witnesses
  • CINDY SHERMAN
  • GUSTAV METZGER
    Killing fields: Sketch for an exhibition
  • MARTIN HERBERT
    Darren Almond
  • DARREN ALMOND
  • ROLF SACHSSE
    Marginalien zur Fotografie
  • WOLFGANG VOLLMER
    Referenzen

Preface

While preparing our last issue, CAMERA AUSTRIA No. 66, which was dubbed “Scene of the Crime” and included an essay by Diedrich Diederichsen that focused on the question of political memory through photographs, we came across the recent work of Gustav Metzger (born 1926). Known in the Sixties for his manifestos and “lecture-demonstrations” of his auto-creative and auto-destructive art (ADA), Metzger’s political involvement and uncompromising criticism of the art business led him, in 1977, to call for an “art strike.” In the end, however, he was perhaps the only one to set aside artistic production in favor of reflection and theoretical activity.
Metzger’s currently increasing presence is the result not only of the advancing art-historical reappraisal of artistic manifestations of the Sixties, but also of his turn to a new field of artistic involvement: his “Historic Photographs” series. Here he dedicates himself to pictures that deal directly with 20th century political history, from documentary photography of the time of National Socialism, to war within and over Israel, terrorist bombings, and recent events in former Yugoslavia; images of horror, the peaks of destruction and chaos.
Metzger has agreed to the publication, in this issue, of a previously unpublished manuscript – the first draft of “Historic Photographs”, which he originally intended to put on show bearing the title “Killing Fields.” His conceptual reasoning is made clear in the text. He strives to reshape the form of exhibition and artistic work; to recreate the possibility of artistic communication of historic events, the perception of which the mass publication of press photography has virtually made impossible. The realization of this concept in diverse installations shows views of the “Historic Photographs” at the Spacex Gallery in Exeter, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Kunstraum München, the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, and the Kunsthalle Nürnberg, which all serve to illustrate Metzger’s text. Icons of press photography are initially removed and concealed in sculptural works – contextually related to the event depicted – by “covers”, some of which to be revealed by the viewers. The sphere of experience that emerges from the exhibit provides the means for a new approach to these photographs that comes with uncertainty for the viewer, but also a delay in perception that makes it possible to reflect on the history of a violence-laden century.

Manfred Willmann, Marie Röbl, Maren Lübbke
September 1999

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Camera Austria International 67 | 1999
Preface

While preparing our last issue, CAMERA AUSTRIA No. 66, which was dubbed “Scene of the Crime” and included an essay by Diedrich Diederichsen that focused on the question of political memory through photographs, we came across the recent work of Gustav Metzger (born 1926). Known in the Sixties for his manifestos and “lecture-demonstrations” of his auto-creative and auto-destructive art (ADA), Metzger’s political involvement and uncompromising criticism of the art business led him, in 1977, to call for an “art strike.” In the end, however, he was perhaps the only one to set aside artistic production in favor of reflection and theoretical activity.
Metzger’s currently increasing presence is the result not only of the advancing art-historical reappraisal of artistic manifestations of the Sixties, but also of his turn to a new field of artistic involvement: his “Historic Photographs” series. Here he dedicates himself to pictures that deal directly with 20th century political history, from documentary photography of the time of National Socialism, to war within and over Israel, terrorist bombings, and recent events in former Yugoslavia; images of horror, the peaks of destruction and chaos.
Metzger has agreed to the publication, in this issue, of a previously unpublished manuscript – the first draft of “Historic Photographs”, which he originally intended to put on show bearing the title “Killing Fields.” His conceptual reasoning is made clear in the text. He strives to reshape the form of exhibition and artistic work; to recreate the possibility of artistic communication of historic events, the perception of which the mass publication of press photography has virtually made impossible. The realization of this concept in diverse installations shows views of the “Historic Photographs” at the Spacex Gallery in Exeter, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Kunstraum München, the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, and the Kunsthalle Nürnberg, which all serve to illustrate Metzger’s text. Icons of press photography are initially removed and concealed in sculptural works –contextually related to the event depicted – by “covers”, some of which to be revealed by the viewers. The sphere of experience that emerges from the exhibit provides the means for a new approach to these photographs that comes with uncertainty for the viewer, but also a delay in perception that makes it possible to reflect on the history of a violence-laden century.
A loose connection to Gustav Metzger appears in the work of the young London artist, Darren Almond. In his multi media pieces, which follow from a view of sculpture as spatially and emotionally experiential possibility, Almond goes beyond “sensation”-mainstream to a field that testifies to a direct examination of places charged with emotion. His work incorporates the place of (his own) family just as it would a prison cell or a place as historically and politically impaired as Auschwitz. For example, in his video “Traction” (1999), Almond constructs not only a family psychograph but equally delivers a biting commentary on the repressive, anti-solidaritarian politics of the labor market under Margaret Thatcher: “workfare” in place of “welfare.” A camera that is fixed for hours on an empty prison cell in “H.M.P. Pentonville” (1997) evokes a dull, oppressive and, at the same time, perversely suspenseful tide of emotion whose intensity and variability stands in stark contrast to the formally minimal work. For Darren Almond, the depiction of, or movement through a room is tantamount to life experience and actual occurrence. But life doesn’t stop at one’s own front door. A bus stop in Auschwitz (“Oswiecim, March 1997”) becomes the symbol for a journey; a journey that could be the last, but, in any event, one that changes life forever.
Doubt concerning the reliability of established systems of representation via parody and denaturalization was already a theme in Cindy Sherman’s 1970’s photo series “Untitled Filmstills”, which was featured in CAMERA AUSTRIA No. 15/16 in 1984. Through her work, Cindy Sherman has been committed to this critical matter up to this day – CAMERA AUSTRIA has steadily followed her artistic development with enthusiastic interest (for example, in an article in CAMERA AUSTRIA NO. 35, 1990, as well as on the occasion of the Symposium 1998 in CAMERA AUSTRIA NO. 62/63).
Unlike Sherman’s earlier works, however, the artist has physically removed herself from the picture in her latest series – represented in this issue of CAMERA AUSTRIA along with by a text by Jutta Koether – where she remains the invisible, yet present conductor of “nasty games.” The actors in her “Freakshow”, in which the monstrous, gothic, and grotesque have risen to the upper limits of tolerance, are puppets – monsters, chimeras, and bastards, or, alternatively, Barbie Doll, GI Joe, Aladdin, Hercules, and the gay puppets, Billy and Carlos. On the one hand, the creation of Sherman’s misshapen “obscene fetishes” suggests a reference to the terrain of surrealism; on the other hand – as posited by Jutta Koether in her article – it is also the dismemberment of an “American Dream”. Her images evoke “the memory of a future that has already been destroyed”. They could be symbolic of the social, that ist, the mental state of a society at the close of a century where “a madman, a psychokiller, an annihilator, an eradicator is on the loose,” but now, as before, they don’t refrain from Sherman’s frequently voiced expression: “…and also make fun of the culture!”
A paradigm in the work of Jörg Schlick ist to question theoriginality in artistic work. Consequently, this approach has turned Schlick’s attention to the multiplied original, the “multiple,” and may have been the point of departure for his new serial photographs in which, while the work is compressed into a single picture, also comprises an equal number of equal parts. It is also an attempt to create a work in which the possible referents are no longer directly visible – a consequent consideration in a time in which art draws its legitimization chiefly through referential interconnections and comprehensively applied systems of reference. Martin Prinzhorn approaches these new works of Jörg Schlick via cognitive theory. The serial photographs, which show fragments of banal places that refer to nothing other than themselves – places, therefore, lacking in specific content or meaning – allude, as Prinzhorn suggests, to the alleged banality of seeing, where meaning becomes marginalized. At the same time, Schlick initiates a game with the observer, since the process of permanent composition and decomposition not only requires constant constructional labor, but the objects depicted are also increasingly deprived of their characteristics. In this way, Schlick’s serial photographs contribute principally to and thrust forward the much neglected discussion on banality in contemporary art.
Along with a contribution on Gottfried Bechtold and Hans Schabus, which arises out of their joint exhibit at the CAMERA AUSTRIA Gallery on the occasion on the Austrian “fotoprofile” (September 1 to October 22, 1999), CAMERA AUSTRIA No. 68 will also feature the works of Daan van Golden and Gregor Schneider.

Wishing you an enjoyable read,
Manfred Willmann, Marie Röbl, Maren Lübbke
September 1999

Entries

Forum

GÖTZ DIERGARTEN

BETTINA HOFFMANN

NICOLA MEITZNER

KAI KUSS

KATHARINA BOSSE

RUTH KAASERER

NINA SCHMITZ

Exhibitions

Notorious. Alfred Hitchcock and Contemporary Art
Museum of Modern Art, Oxford; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Hellen van Meene
The Photographer’s Gallery, London
JOHN TOZER

EXTRAetORDINAIRE
Le Printemps de Cahors, Cahors
JULIA GARIMORTH

Mistral in Arles. Recontres International de la Photographie
Arles
BRUNO CARL

La Biennale di Venezia: Dapertutto
Venedig, Arsenale (Castello Giardini, Corderie, Gaggiandre, Artiglierie, Tese)
SABINE B. VOGEL

Video CULT/URES. Multimediale Installationen
ZKM, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Museum für neue Kunst, Karlsruhe
MATTHIAS MICHALKA

Mehrwert / “Do You Really Want It That Much?” – “…More!” von Volker Eichelmann, Jonathan Faiers und Roland Rust
Ursula Blickle Stiftung, Kraichtal
VERENA KUNI

Connected Cities. Kunstprozesse im urbanen Netz
Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg
CHRISTINE KARALLUS

Puppen Körper Automaten
Kunstsammlung NRW, Düsseldorf

Heaven
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
MAGDALENA KRÖNER

Selbstbilder der Materie
Museum Wiesbaden
WOLFGANG VOLLMER

Stephen Shore / Candida Höfer
Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln
WOLFGANG VOLLMER

Young. Neue Fotografie in der Schweizer Kunst
Fotomuseum Winterthur
RUTH MAURER

Martha Rosler. Positionen in der Lebenswelt
Generali Foundation, Wien
SIGRID ADORF

Inge Morath
Kunsthalle Wien im Museumsquartier, Wien
MARIE RÖBL

Die Farben Schwarz
Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz
CHRISTOPH GURK

Books

Das andere Denken des Aussen. Zu Philippe Dubois’ “Der fotografische Akt”
Verlag der Kunst, Dresden 1999
MICHAEL WETZEL

Junggesellinnen. Zu Rosalind Krauss’ neuem Buch “Bachelors”
MIT Press, Cambridge / Mass, London 1999
STEFAN NEUNER

Ulf Erdmann Ziegler: Fotografische Werke
DuMont Buchverlag, Köln 1999
MAGDALENA KRÖNER

Baudrillard als Fotograf. Ein Plädoyer für die Macht der Verführung und der Illusion
Hatje Cantz Verlag, Ostfildern 1998
KERSTIN BRAUN

Malick Sidibé
Scalo Verlag, Zürich 1998

Max Penson
Wave Collection PBK, Köln 1999

Philip-Lorca Dicorcia: Street Work
Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca 1998
JUDITH SCHWENDTNER

Imprint

Publisher: Manfred Willmann. Owner: Verein CAMERA AUSTRIA, Labor für Fotografie und Theorie
Sparkassenplatz 2, A-8010 Graz

Editors: Christine Frisinghelli
Editorial assistats: Maren Lübbke, Marie Röbl

Translations: Bärbel Fink, Warren Rosenzweig, Jörg von Stein, Richard Watts