In my last post, I described my solution for this task: Looking for a real-life exhibition and explaining why I would fit into this show. Today the situation has changed into this:
»If your own photographic practice was curated into in a new group exhibition / themed journal/ book chapter etc.«, then
- What other practitioners would be included?
- What would be the curatorial rationale?
- What are the similarities and differences?
- How have these practices informed the development of your own practice?
- What are the most appropriate means for the public consumption of your work?
In other words: Plan and curate the exhibition you want and explain why you planned it like this in a meaningful way. A simulation that I like even more than the previous one.
I will focus here on an exhibition in an art gallery, but at this time, it could also be realised as a virtual exhibition on a website. I chose “Photographers on Artists” as a working title and theme. From a curatorial point of view, this would mean to look for photographers that deal with art, artists and the place where art is produced (e.g. studios, art schools). For a group exhibition, I would, as a curator, also look for diversity, for different approaches and concepts. The reason: The result are different image worlds, and the narrative of the exhibition is not uniform. I can build up tension and surprise the visitors. And I can show that there is not only one way to work on a subject.
I have chosen these practitioners as participants (plus me, of course):
Emma Hamilton, an Australian photographer/ artist and her work »The Sculptor’s Photograph«. For her project, she worked in the former studio of Constantin Brancusi. In her photographs, she mimics how Brancusi photographed his own works. But she does not imitate, she has her own view on the studio and creates »an alternative set of documentation« with her use of light and shadow (‘Emma Hamilton: The Sculptor’s Photograph’ n.d.).
The next artist is german photographer Kris Scholz. In his series »marks and traces« he investigates artist’s studios and art schools in different countries. He photographs tabletops, floors and walls and shows the marks and traces that were left from artistic processes. He used large-format and hi-res digital cameras to produce images that contain no artefacts. The final images appear more like an abstract paintings, and this might irritate visitors. But this is, what Scholz wants: »First of all, I want to irritate. I believe that if a work of art irritates the viewer, then that’s a good start. Some works look more like paintings, and since I’ve also printed them on photo canvas and mounted them on stretcher frames, which is very similar to a painting, people are so irritated that they reach out and try to figure it out: Is it three-dimensional? Is there a certain tactile quality in the pictures, or is it just photography?« (‘Ausstellung “Bauhaus und die Fotografie” – Versuchslabor für eine humanere Gesellschaft’ 2020)
With Hamilton and Scholz, there are two photographers who deal in a more abstractly or experimentally way with art and artists. The next candidate on my list is Michael Ruetz, which book »Arno Schmidt Bargfeld.« I reviewed in an earlier post. With this work, I switch to a more classic style of photography: Ruetz investigated the place where writer Arno Schmidt lived for more than twenty years. In calm still lives and landscape shots, the viewer sees what remains from a life (Ruetz and Schmidt 1993). The connecting link between Hamilton, Scholz and Ruetz is, from my point of view, to show art or an artists legacy with still lives.
The work of the next photographer is more lively, it is Nick Waplingtons project about Alexander McQueen »Working Process«. In Waplington’s words »It is not just a book about a season in a fashion house. It is also a personal record of Lee’s imagination, his vision of himself, and a tribute to the many important and lasting relationships he had with all those who worked alongside him.« (‘Working Process’ 2020) He mixes behind-the-scenes images where McQueen is working on his collection and shots of models with images (stills/ landscapes) from a landfill in East London. An unusual approach, but for me, the result is conclusive and impressive. With this participant, the collection gets new aspects of seeing art and artists: At first, the lively reportage gets a place with the pictures of McQueen and his co-workers, and second, the usage of material (the landfill) that is at first sight not connected to the subject of the project, but, with careful editing and sequencing, it gives an integrated picture.
Waplington tells about the connection of waste, recycling plants and fashion in this series: McQueen’s theme was »recycling«, and he grew up in East London, and it fits Waplingtons »dirty and messy« reputation (‘Working Process’ 2020).
I got a carte blanche, and so I would show not only still images but would add some film to the show. I selected an old documentary about Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto from Wim Wenders »Notebook on Cities and Clothes«. On the page of the Wim Wenders foundation I found this statement about the film: »This ‘diary film’ as Wenders called it, investigates the similarities of his craft, filmmaking and that of the Tokyo based fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto.« (‘Aufzeichnungen Zu Kleidern Und Städten | Wim Wenders Stiftung’ 2020) It is again more calm or quiet work, and it deals not only with fashion design but also with filmmaking and its processes. Why – Wenders shot parts of this film with an old-fashioned hand-operated camera (inside Yamamoto’s studio) and with an, at the time the film was made, new Hi8 videocamera.
The second film is about Gerhard Richter, one of Germanys most influential painters. Director Corinna Belz visited him in his studio in 2009 and shows the genesis of his large-format paintings and documents his thoughts while working on them (‘Gerhard Richter Painting | Ein Film von Corinna Belz | Synopsis’ 2020). The film fits well in this selection because it shows an artist at work and the origin of the paintings. With this, it is a counterpart to Hamilton, Scholz and Ruetz, who shows the workplaces, or what is left of them. On the other hand, it accompanies Waplingtons and Wenders work.
Now I want to describe how I will fit into this group. I would place myself between Ruetz and Waplington, but closer to Ruetz. The reason for that is that I also deal, like Ruetz, with a place that has a melancholic mood. It is there and visited by the artist, but it seems unlikely that new work is produced here. In opposite to Ruetz, who worked in Bargfeld after Schmidt passed away, I have the chance to photograph the artist. In portraits, snaps, and also in some scenes were he worked on a sculpture.
That is what brings me a little bit closer to Waplington, but without the lively atmosphere he recorded. Another connection to Waplington is that the collection McQueen worked on was his retrospective. I see parts of my work with Christoph as a retrospective, too. Especially in the exhibition where my images and his sculptures were shown together.
I have a strong connection to the work of Kris Scholz. I saw it several times at Darmstadt’s Kunsthalle and know the quality of the images. What I learned from them was to look even more for details in the subject, to extract more from the given scene. Also, to work with a larger camera format to reduce artefacts and provide the structure of the item more chance to appear.
Emma Hamiltons work wasn’t so influential for me, because her approach isn’t mine and wouldn’t have made sense in this project. But she made the starting point for my research on the connections between photography and sculpture.
That’s the end of this post, and unfortunately, it’s only a simulation game. It’s the first idea, but I like it. Perhaps, sometime …
‘Emma Hamilton: The Sculptor’s Photograph’. n.d. emma hamilton [online]. Available at: http://emmajhamilton.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-sculptors-photograph.html [accessed 27 Mar 2020].
‘Ausstellung “Bauhaus und die Fotografie” – Versuchslabor für eine humanere Gesellschaft’. 2020. Deutschlandfunk [online]. Available at: https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/ausstellung-bauhaus-und-die-fotografie-versuchslabor-fuer.807.de.html?dram:article_id=435535 [accessed 27 Mar 2020]. Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator
RUETZ, Michael and Arno SCHMIDT (eds.). 1993. Arno Schmidt. Bargfeld. 1. Aufl. Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins.
‘Working Process’. 2020. Nick Waplington [online]. Available at: http://www.nickwaplington.org/working-process [accessed 27 Mar 2020].
‘Aufzeichnungen Zu Kleidern Und Städten | Wim Wenders Stiftung’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://wimwendersstiftung.de/film/aufzeichnungen-zu-kleidern-und-staedten/ [accessed 27 Mar 2020].
‘Gerhard Richter Painting | Ein Film von Corinna Belz’. 2020. [online]. Available at: http://www.gerhard-richter-painting.de/ [accessed 27 Mar 2020].
Images used in this post:
Figure 1,3: Marcel RAUSCHKOLB. 2019. Kris Scholz, Images from »marks and traces« at the Kunsthalle Darmstadt, exhibition »Bauhaus and Photography: New Vision in Contemporary Art«, 2019.
Figure 2: Image Courtesy of Christian Capurro. From: ‘Emma Hamilton: The Sculptor’s Photograph’. n.d. emma hamilton [online]. Available at: http://emmajhamilton.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-sculptors-photograph.html [accessed 27 Mar 2020].
Figure 4: Image from RUETZ, Michael and Arno SCHMIDT (eds.). 1993. Arno Schmidt. Bargfeld. 1. Aufl. Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins.
Figure 5: Nick WAPLINGTON. 2007. Image from ‘Working Process’. 2020. Nick Waplington [online]. Available at: http://www.nickwaplington.org/working-process [accessed 28 Mar 2020].
Figure 6: Filmstill from ‘Notebook on Cities and Clothes | Wim Wenders Stiftung’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://wimwendersstiftung.de/en/film/notebook-on-cities-and-clothes/ [accessed 28 Mar 2020].
Figure 7: Filmstill from ‘Gerhard Richter Painting | Ein Film von Corinna Belz’. 2020. [online]. Available at: http://www.gerhard-richter-painting.de/ [accessed 27 Mar 2020].
Figure 8: Marcel RAUSCHKOLB. 2019/2020. View from sculptor Christoph Kappesser’s studio [Prints on Foamboard, 40 x 40 cm]. Available at https://www.marcelrauschkolb.de/christophsatelier [accessed 25 March 2020]