Thinking ahead: Where is a place for my work, part two

Figure 1: Kris Scholz »marks and traces« at Kunsthalle Darmstadt 2019
© for the artwork Kris Scholz,
Exhibition photograph © Marcel Rauschkolb

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):

Figure 2: Emma Hamilton, The Sculptor’s Photograph, 2014 (Blindside Gallery, Melbourne). Image Courtesy of Christian Capurro. 

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.).

Figure 3: Kris Scholz »marks and traces« at Kunsthalle Darmstadt 2019
© for the artwork Kris Scholz,
Exhibition photograph © Marcel Rauschkolb

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)

Figure 4: Spread from »Arno Schmidt Bargfeld.«
© Michael Ruetz
Reproduction: Marcel Rauschkolb

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.

Figure 5: Nick Waplington »Working Process«
© Nick Waplington

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).

Figure 6: Filmstill from »Notebooks on Cities and Clothes«, 1988/1989
© Wim Wenders

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.

Figure 7: »Gelbes Bild«, Filmstill from »Gerhard Richter painting« by Corinna Belz, 2011
© Gerhard Richter for the painting
© Corinna Belz for the photograph

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.

Figure 8: At the sculptor’s studio © Marcel Rauschkolb

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 …

Resources:

‘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]

Independent Reflection: Where is a place for my work?

This week’s topic of our studies was titled »Enter the academy« and deals with the art world and the different ways of displaying artworks in museums and galleries.

Figure 1: Inside the sculptor’s studio © Marcel Rauschkolb

Our task for the independent reflection is the following simulation:

  • Identifying and researching a real-life group exhibition, where I feel that my work fits.
  • Describing the curational intent of the exhibition and justifying why my work should be included in it.
  • To think about how reviewers would relate my practice to the other works shown.
  • How would I relate my practice to the other works in the exhibition?

At the »Art Foyer« of Frankfurt’s DZ Bank, I found what I looked for: A group exhibition with a well-defined theme and not only showing pictures from collection XYZ. The title of the exhibition was »Herein – Fotografierte Interieurs« (»Come in! – Photographed Interiors«) and it took place from 14. April to 11. June 2011.

Figure 2: Paulo NOZOLINO: Untitled (Tangier, 1983), 1983, From the series: Penumbra, 80 x 120 cm (© Paulo Nozolino)

Shown are works from 20 photographers dealing with the interior rooms. Among them were artists like Katharina Bosse, Candida Höfer, Sarah Jones, Luigi Ghirri, Robert Longo and Georges Rousse.

Luminata Sabau, the curator of the exhibition, described her approach as follows: »Since its beginnings in the early 1990s, we have designed the structure of our collection of contemporary photography according to the genres of art history. Our extensive collection of works dealing with classical genre themes makes it possible to understand the extent to which photography continues the principles of painting by other means. For our thematic exhibition ‘Come in!’ we have made a selection that makes these references visible in one of the oldest artistic subjects.« (‘DZ BANK Kunstsammlung: Herein! – Informationen Zur Ausstellung’ 2020)

Figure 3: Luigi GHIRRI: Orvieto, Museo dell’opera del Duomo, 1985, 40 x 50 cm (© Luigi Ghirri)

The artists work in different ways to explore the interiors they selected: More documentary, as in the works of Katharina Bosse, Candida Höfer, Lynne Cohen (:: ‘:: Lynne Cohen’: 2020) or Lucinda Devlin (‘Lucinda Devlin Photography’ 2020). French artist Georges Rousse works in given places but adds geometric figures on the surface of room’s objects (‘Georges Rousse’ 2020). Martin Dörbaum (‘Martin Dörbaum – Portfolio’ 2020) works without a camera; he constructs everything on the computer.

I will try to justify why my work would have been fitted into this exhibition. In my actual project, I explored the studio of a sculptor. So, the central theme of the show fits: I deal with the interior. 

Due to the illness of the artist I worked with, it is no longer used, but he still visits it regularly. There is still the atmosphere of a place where art is created or has been created. But I felt that the time of production was over. The whole small building has a melancholic atmosphere. Writer Roland Held wrote about my pictures »What emerges here from a visit to the studio is a single large vanitas study.« (Held in »Bridge to Reality«: The Exhibition Review of »Begegnungen« at the Galerie Will, Darmstadt’ 2020). When looking at the practitioners in the exhibition, I see similarities to Robert Longos »The Freud Series«, where he used images of Sigmund Freud’s home and office that were photographed in 1938 by Edmund Engelman and overworked them with black charcoal (Engelhard in Sabau, Engelhard 2011: 20). We use entirely different techniques, but it’s all about the same thing: a person’s workplace before it is completely abandoned.

I haven’t seen the exhibition live, but when I look into the brochure or on the websites of the artists, all images have in common that they show rooms without people. The general mood fluctuates between calm (Candida Höfer) and melancholic (Paulo Nozolino), sometimes also claustrophobic (Raissa Venables) or frightening (Lucinda Devlin).

What would make me also fit into this selection is that most works deal with a broader view of the investigated rooms, and I could make a counterposition to this. My series mainly consists of close-ups. I extract details that I notice from the room. I use only a small amount of more full shots. I think you only need a few of them to give orientation. So it could be an addition to Sarah Jones’ »Consulting Room« (‘Consulting Room by SarahJones’ 2020) or, again, »The Freud Circle« from Robert Longo (‘ROBERT LONGO’ 2020).

Figure 7: Inside the sculptor’s studio © Marcel Rauschkolb

One critique could be that I am working in a minimal space and it is about a person who is not as prominent as Sigmund Freud. Maybe it might not be socially critical enough for some visitors; I don’t know. The accusation could be that it’s too “designed”. I counter that by saying that I think I have documented something here that interested me, that will soon be gone and that usually is not accessible to everyone.

In the brochure that accompanies the exhibition, Günter Engelhard writes in the introduction: »Let’s take a good look! The invitation to please ‘come in’ to look at the room photographs of 20 different contemporary artists sounds friendly, but it also has unexpected, even unpleasant consequences. Anyone who responds to the invitation will quickly realize that he or she urgently wants to leave a considerable part of these rooms again. Although they seem empty, they are heavily burdened with content. In most cases, they are places of escape and refuge, virtually invented in a meaningful way or even the very last rooms that leave no way out.« (Engelhard in Sabau, Engelhard 2011:8) I don’t know what the visitors of the exhibition thought, but I can’t fully agree with this. Yes, there are unpleasant, claustrophobic and frightening rooms. But there is also this power of observation of the photographers, who show us ordinary subjects in a new way and thus arouse our curiosity.

References:

‘DZ BANK Kunstsammlung: Herein! – Informationen Zur Ausstellung’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.dzbank-kunstsammlung.de/de/art-foyer-detail/herein/info/ [accessed 25 Mar 2020].
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator

:: ‘:: Lynne Cohen ’: 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.lynne-cohen.com/ [accessed 26 Mar 2020].

‘Lucinda Devlin Photography’. 2020. lucindadevlin [online]. Available at: https://www.lucindadevlin.com [accessed 26 Mar 2020].

‘Georges Rousse’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.georgesrousse.com/ [accessed 26 Mar 2020].

‘Martin Dörbaum – Portfolio’. 2020. [online]. Available at: http://doerbaum.com/ [accessed 26 Mar 2020].

HELD, Roland in »Bridge to Reality«: The Exhibition Review of »Begegnungen« at the Galerie Will, Darmstadt’. 2020. Marcels CRJ [online]. Available at: https://marcelrauschkolb.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/bridge-to-reality-the-exhibition-review-of-begegnungen-at-the-galerie-will-darmstadt/ [accessed 26 Mar 2020].

SABAU, Luminata, ENGELHARD, Günter, 2011. Herein!. 14.04.2011 – 11.06.2011 [brochure] Frankfurt: DZ Bank Kunstsammlung
Available as download via https://www.dzbank-kunstsammlung.de/fileadmin/user_upload/pdfs/programmheft/2011_-_Herein_.pdf
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator

‘Consulting Room by SarahJones’. 2020. [online]. Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/sarah-jones/consulting-room-D029I5JJbao8PRGTrKwwWQ2 [accessed 26 Mar 2020]. 

‘ROBERT LONGO’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.robertlongo.com/ [accessed 26 Mar 2020].


Images used in this post:

Figures 1, 4, 5, 6, 7: Marcel RAUSCHKOLB. 2019/2020. Views from sculptor Christoph Kappesser’s studio [Prints on Foamboard, 40 x 40 cm]. Available at https://www.marcelrauschkolb.de/christophsatelier [accessed 25 March 2020]

Figure 2: Paulo NOZOLINO. 1983. Untitled (Tangier, 1983). From the series: Penumbra. 80 x 120 cm. From: DZ BANK Kunstsammlung [online image] Available at: https://www.dzbank-kunstsammlung.de/de/art-foyer-detail/herein/artistSingleImage/339/image/469/ [accessed 26 Mar 2020].

Figure 3: Luigi GHIRRI. 1985. Orvieto, Museo dell’opera del Duomo. 40 x 50 cm. From: DZ BANK Kunstsammlung [online image]. Available at: https://www.dzbank-kunstsammlung.de/de/art-foyer-detail/herein/artistSingleImage/275-1/image/459/ [accessed 26 Mar 2020].

How others photographed an artist’s workplace: A review of »Arno Schmidt Bargfeld.« by Michael Ruetz

Michael Ruetz »Arno Schmidt Bargfeld«, Zweitausendeins Verlag 1993

The book I review here isn’t new; in fact, german publishing house “Zweitausendeins” published it in 1993. When I first read about it, I was 28 and not very interested in it. I knew a little bit about Ruetz’s work and nothing about the writer Arno Schmidt at this time.

But when I started working in the studio of sculptor Christoph Kappesser, I remembered Ruetz’s project. I only remembered Arno Schmidt, a reportage about his house and that it was published by »2001«. The book is out of stock for years, and the project isn’t documented on the internet.

But I found a copy in good condition and started reading it last week.

I have chosen to add this book to my project’s reference list because there are similarities. Ruetz and I investigate, or investigated, the workplaces of artists. He worked in one of an author; I work in the one of a sculptor.

Ruetz divided the book into three parts: »Outdoors«, where he shows the landscape around Bargfeld, the house and the garden. Part two, »Inside« deals with the library, the workplace, »Zettelkästen« (card-index boxes), the kitchen and the living room. The last chapter goes, as Ruetz writes in the foreword, »into details« (Ruetz and Schmidt 1993).

The images of the first and the last chapter have only small captures at the end of each chapter. For the second part, »Inside«, more text, like citations from Schmidt’s works and letters and a more extended passage from Reemtsma about the relationship between the card-index boxes and the final books, was used.

When reading the book, the sequencing feels like travelling to Schmidt’s house. It starts with double-, partly four-sided (complex production!) landscape photographs of this rural part of Germany. After some pages, the village of Bargfeld appears. Then a change of view occurs; one has the feeling to look from the house into the landscape. Then Schmidt’s cottage comes closer. The chapter ends with a view on Schmidt’s grave near the house.

I like this first chapter with its quiet landscapes. Especially the large format of the book (28 x 38 cm) and the fold-out pages give them an appropriate stage. Critical points from my point of view are the interspersed winter images and the sequencing. The winter pictures interrupt the mood unnecessarily; the way from the village to Schmidt’s house is not clearly understood.

Part two is more mine. Now, the photographer is inside the house. The tour starts with the centrepiece: The writer’s desk, accompanied by some close-ups of Schmidt’s office and the card-index boxes. Also, the content of the drawers is presented. The library follows, and again the »Zettelkästen«, the card-index boxes. To show these more than once is the right decision from my point of view because they were essential tools in Schmidt’s writing practice. What I don’t understand is that Ruetz used different image formats and also different colour moods. It would do better justice to the card boxes if they were presented in a separate chapter and with the same picture format. To make a long story short: More presented as typology, more Bernd and Hilla Becher! (‘Bernhard Und Hilla Becher – Anonyme Skulpturen: Eine Typologie Technischer Bauten, Art-Press, 1970, Düsseldorf – Josef Chladek’ 2020) For the interior shots, I would prefer the warmer images; the cooler ones do not fit here. 

What follows is the kitchen, his wife’s office (what was his former workplace), the cellar with the canned food. A right decision not only to show what is ‘typical’ for a writer (his office) but also the ‘normal’ things.

But then again a break: Outside shots from the terrace, the house, the archive building. For me not consistent, because Ruetz tells us in the preface (Ruetz and Schmidt 1993), that chapter two deals with the inside – so what are the outside shots and the moonlit scene doing here?

What I like: The text pieces that accompany the images. They work well together and help to get a more comprehensive picture of the writer.

Part three is the most confusing for me. Not because of the quality of the pictures, everything here is well seen and adequately composed. But Ruetz writes in the preface that he is dealing here with the detail – and starts with a broader view of office/ library. After some images of the bookshelves, the card index boxes appear again. Now shown closer on two-page spreads. The drawers are shown again, then a cut to the bookshelves of the library. After that, Ruetz shows everyday life with the kitchen and the preserved fruits in the cellar. For the final image, Ruetz used a view of the wardrobe with Schmidt’s green leather jacket – it seems as if Schmidt is still here, a beautiful picture, in my opinion.

If I could rework this book, I would segment the images in another way. As I mentioned before, why not making one chapter with the card index boxes only, supported by some text? The boxes were an essential tool for this writer, and for me, they are not getting the attention they deserve.

Another issue is the use of the term »detail«. If a chapter is described that it will deal with them, I don’t expect broader views of the rooms. A solution for this dilemma would be not to use the word »detail« in the description of the chapters, or, again, to edit the images in another way.

What conclusions do I draw from this for the selection of images in my project?

  • Taking a closer look at the consistency of chapters and sequences.
  • Also, if I describe the content of a group of images, description and image selection must fit.
  • If a subject appears more than once, I should decide, if I group these images or use it as a recurring motif.
  • Overviews or more full shots are excellent, but you don’t need many of them.
  • A selection of Close-ups transports the mood better because here the viewer sees details he often wouldn’t notice.
  • Taking care of the colour. Here it is good to think more like a colourist in filmmaking. Try to align the colours of different shots. Think about why colour changes in the sequence (e.g. going from the inside to the outside).

Some background on Schmidt and Bargfeld:

Schmidt was one of the most important German-language writers of the post-war period (‘Arno Schmidt’ 2020). In 1958 he moved from Darmstadt (fun fact: the town where I live) to a cottage in Bargfeld, a village in Lower Saxony. Here he lived and worked until his death in 1979 (‘Arno Schmidt – Suhrkamp Insel Autoren Autorendetail’ 2020). Ruetz visited Bargfeld after Schmidt’s death and published the book in April 1993. It contains images of the house and the surrounding landscape, accompanied by texts from Arno Schmidt, Jan Philipp Reemtsma and Michael Ruetz. The cottage still exists and is now a museum (‘Arno Schmidt Stiftung’ 2020). Then details form Schmidt’s office. Images of the library follow and then the kitchen, cellar and the wardrobe in the corridor with Schmidt’s leather jacket still hanging there. 

References:

RUETZ, Michael and Arno SCHMIDT (eds.). 1993. Arno Schmidt. Bargfeld. 1. Aufl. Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins.

‘Arno Schmidt’. 2020. Wikipedia. Available at: https://de.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Arno_Schmidt&oldid=196561507 [accessed 22 Mar 2020].

‘Arno Schmidt – Suhrkamp Insel Autoren Autorendetail’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.suhrkamp.de/autoren/arno_schmidt_4324.html [accessed 22 Mar 2020].

‘Arno Schmidt Stiftung’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.arno-schmidt-stiftung.de/ [accessed 22 Mar 2020].

‘Bernhard Und Hilla Becher – Anonyme Skulpturen: Eine Typologie Technischer Bauten, Art-Press, 1970, Düsseldorf – Josef Chladek’. 2020. josefchladek.com [online]. Available at: https://josefchladek.com/book/bernhard_und_hilla_becher_-_anonyme_skulpturen_eine_typologie_technischer_bauten [accessed 22 Mar 2020].

»Bridge to Reality«: The exhibition review of »Begegnungen« at the Galerie Will, Darmstadt

The article in the »Darmstädter Echo«, written by Dr. Roland Held, exhibition photo by Andreas Kelm.

On Tuesday, 17 March 2020, this review written by Dr Roland Held of Christoph Kappesser’s and my exhibition at Galerie Will was published in the newspaper »Darmstädter Echo«.

»Marcel Rauschkolb’s photography meets Christoph Kappesser’s sculptures at the Fenstergalerie Will in Darmstadt.

From Roland Held

DARMSTADT – Going on a camera hunt in the studio of a sculptor has already attracted many photographers. What is a profane everyday environment for the sculptural artist can transform his colleague’s view behind the lens into scenes that seem to come from an unknown excavation site or a surreal chamber of marvels. A few years ago Werner Mansholt published the photographic impressions he collected at Detlef Kraft’s place of work as a booklet.

The »Encounters« – the motto of the project – by Marcel Rauschkolb and Christoph Kappesser have now resulted in an exhibition. At first glance, the show follows in the footsteps of past appearances Kappesser had at the same place: an overabundance of marble and bronze sculptures scattered on pedestals, on shelves and in the large display windows. Often identical pieces, only different in material, where the sculptor in stone pours ore over the pieces he has worked in stone, occasionally developing the result further. From an almost life-size »Standing« to miniature figure narratives: Christoph Kappesser’s work revolves around the corporeality of the human being, usually women. He differentiates this underlying theme between the poles of wholeness and fragment, closeness to nature and bizarre deformation, statuesque calm and autoerotic body pleasure, even acrobatic exuberance.

Marcel Rauschkolb, photographer and art director from Griesheim, has paid several visits to the sculptures place of origin. Their creator is presented in three medium-format colour photographs, wearing his fur-lined vest, concentrated in the fine grinding of the marble. The change of perspective reveals to the viewer what, apart from the tools of the trade, is still romping in front of and on the studio walls: Painter’s palette, dusty catalogues and books, lots of pinned notes, a first-aid kit, a skull.

In comparison to Detlef Kraft’s veritable workshop, Kappesser’s workplace is scarcely dimensioned. The ten-square-meter photo enlargement installed in Klaus Will’s gallery does not disguise this. On the contrary – a claustrophobic hullabaloo of equipment that can only be understood by the owner himself pushes itself towards us. A female marble torso with gently curved arms positioned directly in front of the »photo wallpaper«, serves as a bridge between two- and three-dimensional reality. Supported by hammering, whirring and grinding noises coming from the loudspeaker and superimposed in four tracks – pure studio acoustics!

Study of transience

Marcel Rauschkolb’s photographic art only comes into its own in a series of 18 smaller photographs, where his camera dives into the curious detail of the studio’s backyard. A crushed, poisonous green wax form in an old crucible; a confrontation of bronze profile and brown tree trunk; an erotic picture from the turn of the century before last tilted out of its frame – plaster cracked everywhere, rusty reinforcing bars, stuck brushes, dried leaves, indefinable lumps and crumbs: what emerges here from a visit to the studio is a single large vanitas study.« (Held 2020)

About the author Dr Roland Held:

born 1949 in Darmstadt

After various studies ( PhD on a contemporary US lyricist), a traineeship in the Hessian school system (secondary level 2), professional reorientation: Ten years as a freelance editor for the »Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt« and parallel to this, for 25 years now, working as a freelance journalist and author (art criticism and art education): Reviews, catalogue texts, artist lexicons, translations, opening speeches, jury work, Adult education centre courses, guided tours etc. (‘Die Lektoren Des Weststadt Verlags’ 2020)

There is also another post dealing with this exhibition: On Sculpture and Photography (and an exhibition opening)

References:

HELD, Roland. 2020. ‘Darmstadt: Brücke in die Wirklichkeit’. Darmstädter Echo : die unabhängige politische Tageszeitung Südhessens, 17 Mar, 21. (Automatically translated with https://www.deepl.com/translator and further corrections by me)

‘Die Lektoren Des Weststadt Verlags’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.weststadt-verlag.de/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25&Itemid=2 [accessed 18 Mar 2020]. (Automatically translated with https://www.deepl.com/translator)

On Sculpture and Photography (and an exhibition opening)

Exhibition view, in the foreground a sculpture from Christoph Kappesser. Image: ©Marcel Rauschkolb

To give an insight into my own research about the relations of sculpture and photography, I publish here the speech I held at the opening of the exhibition »Begegnungen« (»Encounters«) at Fenstergalerie Will, Darmstadt on 15 March 2020.

The exhibition shows sculptural works of Christoph Kappesser together with photographs of his studio I took in the last months.

Here is the speech (I waive reproduction of the welcoming address here):

The planning for this exhibition started a few months ago with a slightly different idea. When Christoph, Heiko and Klaus asked me if I wanted to participate, I was spontaneously enthusiastic, because I liked Christopher’s work.

I had one more question. »May I see the studio?« – and that’s how it started.

Christophs sculptures and an image of the studio, realised as 3×3 metres wallpaper.
In the exhibition, sounds from the studio (compressor, hammer, chisel) are played.
© for the sculptures: Christoph Kappesser, © for the images Marcel Rauschkolb

Andrè Malraux wrote in 1947 »the history of sculpture is a history of what can be photographed.« (Malraux in Marcoci et al. 2010, 13)

And I found something to photograph in that studio, which the Bauverein (the local housing association) had built in the backyard of a block of flats in the fifties, more than enough (Darmstadt 2020).

I must say that I have a strong affinity for studios and workshops.

Places where cultural or craft things are created.

I need to investigate and document such places.

Without trying to be objective, but rather as I perceive them.

It has been written about the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi that the studio is a work of art in itself, a large-scale installation. (Marcoci et al. 2010, 97)

This is how I saw Christopher’s studio.

Images from the sculpture’s studio, realised as 40×40 cm fine art prints, at Fenstergalerie Will. ©Marcel Rauschkolb

I move in it, in the place »where the magic happens« and see

– Tools

– Sketches

– The »original originals« made of plaster and wax

– And the finished works in bronze and marble.

The light in the studio is somewhat subdued, almost shadowless.

Everything has a warm colour characteristic, also due to the sanding dust that has settled over everything.

Outside and in the sheds, the green and blue tones dominate.

The white of the plaster stands out from the darker surroundings.

Many things seem anachronistic at first sight, no highly optimized workflows or status boards are visible. But: Idea, concept and production are not yet separated here, they form a unit. And that’s probably what I appreciate about places like this.

From Christoph and later also from his friend and colleague Michel, I learned a lot about the process of creation in sculpture.

Sculpture and photography have, as I gradually discovered, a long shared history (Marcoci et al. 2010, 12 and Batchen in Marcoci et al. 2010, 20). Among other things, the first motifs of early photographers like Henri Fox Talbot were sculptures (Batchen in Marcoci et al. 2010, 23 & 39).

Later, photography became a means of documenting the process and the finished works. And: it served to disseminate the practices through prints.

Subsequently, the disciplines intermingled, as with Marcel Duchamp (Marcoci et al. 2010, 15).

As you can see, this is an almost inexhaustible and exciting subject that will fascinate me for some time to come.

I will close now and wish you/you much pleasure with Christoph’s sculptures and the pictures of the place of origin.

Many thanks!

Seen through the windows of the gallery: Christoph’s sculptures and my images.
© for the sculptures: Christoph Kappesser, © for the images: Marcel Rauschkolb

Addendum:
If you are interested you can watch a recording of my speech here (sorry, only in german).

Reference:

MARCOCI, Roxana et al. (eds.). 2010. FotoSkulptur: die Fotografie der Skulptur 1839 bis heute ; [… anlässlich der Ausstellung ‘FotoSkulptur: die Fotografie der Skulptur 1839 bis Heute’ ;The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1. August – 1. November 2010 ; Kunsthaus Zürich, 25. Februar – 15. Mai 2011 ; Katalog]. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz. (My translation)

DARMSTADT, bauverein AG. 2020. ‘Kunst und Architektur’. [online]. Available at: http://www.bauvereinag.de/de/unternehmen/kunst-und-architektur [accessed 15 Mar 2020].

‘Christoph Kappesser’. 2020. [online]. Available at: http://www.christophkappesser.de/ [accessed 15 Mar 2020].

Into the Image World – On the Meanings of Photographs and Experimentation

PHO702 Week 4, Reflection

Frankfurt at night, drive-by shot, ©Marcel Rauschkolb

This weeks’ theme revolved around the different meanings of an image and how they arise.

In “Image, Music, Text”, Roland Barthes notes, that “It is necessary to overthrow the myth, the birth of the Reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (Barthes and Heath 1987, 148). His idea is that too much importance is attached to the author; the meaning is generated by the reader alone. With this in mind, we had had to post a (new) picture our peers hadn’t seen before; without any additional explanation.

I choose an image I took four weeks ago. It shows Frankfurt at night, seen from the east. My peers commented it in these ways:

A: “This image for me depicts a sense of loneliness or melancholy, by the lack of visible humans it feels isolated, divided from the rest of the city via the railings. Yet, there is also a sense of feeling overwhelmed by the hectic business, as shown via the blur of living in a city.”

B: “The city as energy and motion. The enthralling nature of night time in a city as perhaps one passes by as part of a journey. I feel that I am definitely there in the moment of capture thanks to the blur. But I also don’t know which city it is and whether we will be stopping at all. Then the colours give a sense of transience, of time passing, and that parts of this place are not permanent, they are fragments of time or things I thought I saw in passing but were never really there.”

C: “A sudden glimpse to the left or right, and this moment is seen. A journey through as you move from A to B. Heading into the city or away.”

D: “A lot of motion, warm light. Leaving the city, transition. It has a feel of a road movie.”

In each of them, I see a part of my intention(s). It’s true that Frankfurt is hectic and dominated by business, especially finance. Then there is the movement; the journey we made while I shot the image. And with this short piece of time, that is captured in the image – when I looked at the display of the camera, the moment was gone for seconds.

Frankfurt at night, drive-by shot (Detail),  ©Marcel Rauschkolb

One aspect of my intention wasn’t there. It is the big black building in the middle, the European Central Bank. That is understandable because I can’t expect that my peers, who aren’t locals, know either Frankfurt or the ECB building. This building always reminds me of a sci-fi movie, where some threatening space ship falls on earth. Its architecture symbolizes, in my eyes, power, financial and political. Even in this image, it tries to dominate the cityscape. But these thoughts were perhaps transportable only with additional titling or a caption.

I close with the experiment I gave notice of in the headline. This image, plus the three others posted here, are part of it. I experiment with the different types of speed that interact in pictures like this: The cars velocity, the cameras shutter speed, film speed, and if it is also moving, the objects speed. The results are not predictable, perhaps a little bit with more routine. In contrast to my other work, where I can anticipate a lot more, this is a direction I will investigate in the next time. It is a follow-up of the “One-Minute exposures” I did in the last module.

The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of “how to do”. The salvation of photography comes from the experiment.

(‘Laszlo Moholy-Nagy – Artist Quotes / Atget Photography.Com / Videos & Books’ 2020)

References:

BARTHES, Roland and Stephen HEATH. 1987. Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana Press.

Peers quotes from the forum “Viewers Make Meaning”, Falmouth University

‘Laszlo Moholy-Nagy – Artist Quotes / Atget Photography.Com / Videos & Books’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://www.atgetphotography.com/Selection/moholy-nagy.html [accessed 27 Jan 2020].

Thoughts on Jeff Walls “Hunters and Farmers”

PHO702, Week 3 – Reflection

“Marks of Science”: A detail of the floor at a former workshop of Darmstadt’s Technical University | ©Marcel Rauschkolb

Even if Jeff Wall is not on the list of my favourite photographers, I like its analogy of dividing photographers into “Hunters” and “Farmers” (Cotton 2014). A hunter is someone who takes photographs of the reality in front of him. The farmer makes and stages photographs. 

To illustrate this: More or less every advertising photographer is a farmer in his studio. He constructs, he stages, he stakes the shot. On the other hand: The classic photographers from Magnum, like Cartier-Bresson, Capa, Burri, Barbey – they deal with the actual situation.

Thinking about this simple classification concerning my work, I would describe myself as one of the hunters. But at a second look, it turns out that isn’t so easy. When starting my photographic career, I was a hunter: I took pictures of what was in front of me — not everything, but what I thought that it was worth recording.

For my practice in the last years, and perhaps even more since the start of my studies, I would not fully agree to the hunter metaphor anymore.

“Marks of Science”: A detail of the floor at a former workshop of Darmstadt’s Technical University | ©Marcel Rauschkolb

I am selecting more, wait for a particular light or add artificial light, shoot more alternatives. When shooting portraits, I direct the person, and so, more or less, I stage the image. I must confess that I should sometimes lead more, but perhaps this is a process and depends on the situation.

While writing this, I think of what Mathieu Asselin taught in a workshop he held in Frankfurt: “The story doesn’t exist, you have to create that story, you have to create everything” and “it’s your own point of view”. I have to add that Mathieu works in a documentary manner and is a great advocate of research. And thinking of other photographers I appreciate, like Rob Hornstra or Alec Soth, both working in a documentary manner, too, I would say that the metaphor of the hunter has to be expanded or sophisticated.

“Marks of Science”: A detail of the floor at a former workshop of Darmstadt’s Technical University | ©Marcel Rauschkolb

Working on a photographic project always means researching and learning. With this background, I understand the persons and things in front of me better; and it can influence which pictures I take or in which way I will edit them later.

In his Essay “Show and Tell: The Image in Research”, Francis Hodgson states that “Imagery helps to make things clear to the specialists; imagery becomes the prime way to make things clear to the non-specialists” (Hodgson 2019). This can be added to both hunters and farmers – interpreting photography’s mission as a tool to explain situations.

In my opinion, pure hunting isn’t enough to be an “explanator” or a storyteller. The hunt needs preparation and follow-up, and the hunter is more an explorer or explainer today.

“Marks of Science”: A detail of the floor at a former workshop of Darmstadt’s Technical University | ©Marcel Rauschkolb

Addendum (about the pictures in this article):

I title this series of photographs “The marks of engineering”. They are all made inside of “Halle 4”, a former workshop for engineering sciences at Darmstadt’s Technical University. The machinery is now dismantled, and the hall is used as an art gallery.

During a meeting at this location, I discovered the marks and structures left by men and machines. Using the right framing and point of view, oil stains, floor covering and pressure marks of the equipment appear as abstract figures. The remnants of science become works of art.

At this time, the images are not part of a project. But they have connected to my work at a sculptors studio: Surfaces, abstraction through framing, marks of work.

References:

WALL, Jeff in COTTON, Charlotte. 2014. The Photograph as Contemporary Art. Third edition. New York, New York: Thames & Hudson.

ASSELIN, Mathieu. 2018. ‘Idea into actions. Long-term project first steps’ [workshop]. Fotografie Forum Frankfurt, 19 May 2018.

HODGSON, Francis. 2019. ‘Show and Tell: The Image in Research’. Francis Hodgson [online]. Available at: https://francishodgson.com/2019/04/09/show-and-tell-the-image-in-research/ [accessed 18 Feb 2020].

Subjective Traces, Spaces, Faces, Places

Starting point for this post were the following statements:
While photographs may not lie, liars may photograph” (Hine 1909: 111).

Similarly, Sontag (1977: 6) recognised the interpretative nature of the photographic image as a subjective construction: “Although there is a sense in which the camera does indeed capture reality, not just interpret it, photographs are as much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are.”

The question was, how do I construct the world of my images, or what is their fictional/constructed nature. I try to answer this with the following portrait shot and its genesis.

Portrait of Anna ©Marcel Rauschkolb

This portrait is from my last modules’ WIP-Portfolio, which contains, amongst other images, portraits of people at their favourite places at night. With the statements on constructed photography in mind, I would say, that this image, like the other images of the series, is constructed.

Before I took the picture, she told me about her favourite place in the evening: the study of her late husband and that she uses this place to read or watch television.


I like the term “interpretation of the world” because it describes my practice very well. And for communicating one’s own interpretation, it is often (perhaps always) necessary to construct the image. But it also means respecting your counterpart and behaving responsibly, especially when taking pictures of people – this is not the main topic of this article; still, I thought it was important to mention it.

Is Photography a “Mechanical Reproduction”?

PHO702, Week 2 – Reflection

Self-portrait in the window of the cafe "806qm" in Darmstadt.
Self-portrait, in front of the “806qm”-cafe, Darmstadt | ©Marcel Rauschkolb

This weeks post deals with my thoughts about an article from Joel Snyder and Neil Walsh Allen called “Photography, Vision and Representation”.

They open with the question if there is “anything peculiarly ‘photographic’ about photography” (Snyder and Allen 1975).

In the text, they quote Stanley Cavell, who said, that photography “overcame subjectivity”“by automatism, by removing the human agent from the act of reproduction” (Cavell in Snyder and Allen 1975). He also states, they practically realize the artistic ideals of “objectivity and detachment” (Cavell in Snyder and Allen 1975).

I must say that I never believed in the apparent objectivity of photography, and I also have to question the term of detachment.

Snyder and Allen use the term of characterization for their description of the photographic process. I agree with their statement that “a photographer makes characterizations by his choice of equipment and how he uses it” (Snyder and Allen 1975).

In the following, they list factors like choice of lens, depth of field, or image size. For me, these choices are active decisions of the photographer. I don’t see any automation or objectivity in it, even with a single camera.

Later in the article, the authors write that “in practice, the mechanical workings of the photographic process must constantly be regulated by a set of rules for making ‘acceptable’ pictures” (Snyder and Allen 1975). They illustrate this with a scene containing two men, one in the shadow, one in bright sunlight. The first image, while exposed for the shadows, the man in bright sunlight is overexposed. The second image, exposed for the highlights, shows the man in the shadow underexposed (no detail, more or less a black form). Both results are not satisfying, and only if the photographer corrects the exposure manually, driven by his knowledge and experience, the result will be acceptable.

With reading more and more, it is evident that most models to explain photography and its peculiarities do not really work and Snyder and Allen ask why they are so advanced. They assume that they are put forward as “negative definitions in order to establish what is peculiarly ‘artistic’ about art” (Snyder and Allen 1975).

They describe what is “truly significant” about the photograph of a horse: Namely, “it wasn’t invented by some artist: This is a picture of a real horse” (Snyder and Allen 1975).

Perhaps this could be a difference to other visual arts, that there must be something in front of my lens; otherwise I would not be able to record it. But I will deny that photography is something “automatic”. It follows rules, and even if the image is made with an apparatus, the final appearance of the picture is based on decisions made by the person behind the camera.

I end with my conclusion about this article: Not easy to read, but, even it is from 1975, it is still relevant and enlightening.

Reference:

SNYDER, Joel and Neil Walsh ALLEN. 1975. ‘Photography, Vision, and Representation’. Critical Inquiry 2(1), 143–69.

PHO702, Week 1 – Reflection

Rear view mirror, at night, ©Marcel Rauschkolb

For this weeks reflection, four questions were asked:

Where you are now?
The ‘nature’ and intent of your practice
What contexts your work could be consumed in?
Your practice in the context of other visual practices and critical ideas.

For the first two, I gave an answer of the actual situation in my post ‘An inventory – about human choices and the state of things’, so I will answer only questions three and four in this post.

What contexts your work would be consumed in?

I start with a counter-question: What is the is-state and what the should-state?

At this time, my most used context is the internet, and here social media, first of all, Instagram. This belongs to personal and commercial work. It is followed by books, prints in private environments and the exhibitions I had so far. 

Should-state? For static images, photographs, my favourite medium is still the book. It gives me as a photographer and designer a wealth of creative possibilities and has something less ephemeral than a website. For video work, I prefer the internet.

Planning and realising an exhibition is also a great challenge and working in the three-dimensional room gives you other, perhaps new ways of showing your work.

The last sentences answer where I want to go: Making books and exhibitions. Also, I would like to combine virtual and real presentation more.

Last one.

I am asked about my own practice and its relation to other visual practices and critical ideas. As mentioned before, I am a photographer and designer, and with this background, I am interested in anything visual in general. 

Since the end of the last module, and with the start of working with a sculptor, I try to deepen my knowledge and understanding of the idea of the original in art. Another subject I am researching actually are the similarities and differences in photography and sculpture. A recommended reading is, from my point of view, the chapter “Visual Technologies, Reproduction and the Copy” in Practices of Looking” (Sturken and Cartwright 2017). Another one was “Notes on sculpture and photography” (Purkiss 2018).

In general, I would say that my studies at Falmouth deepened my interest in theory and more philosophical questions.

References:

STURKEN, Marita and Lisa CARTWRIGHT. 2017. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Third edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

PURKISS, Anne in ‘Downloads | Royal Society of Sculptors’. 2020. [online]. Available at: https://sculptors.org.uk/learning-resources/downloads [accessed 4 Feb 2020].