KÖRPER IV year: 2000,
texts by: Sabine Schaschl

BILDER Nr. 166

Photographic concepts of privacy are examined in the last part of the thematic cycle „body“. These concepts however, do not oppose public life but are in close relationship with each other. Each claim for ultimate privacy is refuted by the simple fact that each photograph can be multiplied and manipulated. Moreover, this thematic cycle appears as a mixed form of public private and private public life.

In Erich L?z?r`s photographic series „Private Eye“, the artist takes an active part in the arrangement of the photographed motif. He acts as a confidant between the photographed object and the camera lens. For this reason friends, acquaintances, their microcosm and their brief joint escapes from it are picked as motifs. When his girlfriend - who also acts as his model - speaks of an „indifferent“ expression , she refers of to the choice of motifs, which contain succinct as well as pornographic objects, but not the composition of these two. His lay-out brings the motif to life by using the classical golden cut or by adding attributes which open up an additional narrative dimension.
Also Anja Teske concentrates on acquaintances in her photographic series „good bye“. The artist was looking for a suitable form of visually saving her memories when she moved out of a community which was very important to her. She found a specific production by asking her roommates to pose in underwear. Each person was allowed to choose the position to be photographed and also the kind of underwear. With a special light technique and by being out of focus, her lifesize photographs give the premonition of the absence of people who are still present. The ordinary underwear which is not meant to be seductive, functions as an indication of the close relationship between the roommates.
H. H. Capor has also looked at the body of a close person. The exhibited photographs depict a strong erotic component. In the artist’s words, they can be seen as an outlet of pressure. Central to his work is the recurring erotic approach to his models and the scenes which could evolve for the afterwards of loveplay. The phase of „being in love and horny“ (Capor) is visible in a private and also public way.
Everyday procedures of bodily dedication are central to 8 photographic series of Rita Fabsits. The early morning washing, drying and caring of the body hints at images independent from the fashion world. Stereotypical male glances on the female are cut out. „Similar to a citation, these photographic views on body parts hint at a unique subjective condition which are part of an intersubjective (female) experience and perception of the self“ (G. Steinlechner).
In two videoworks of Martina Chmelarz, bodily aspects are highlighted with strokes which are embedded in virtual spatial structures via a 3D-animation. The individual relations between body and space, body and architecture and body and society are also analyzed by the artist in other works. In this publication, she fragmentarily puts pictures from former works in relation with the exhibited video-tapes. The strokes „Körper“ i.e. „body“ as well as the artificially created body parts - alluding to a profane, manualcreation of the human being by Frankenstein - exist without a certain location and without answering the question of the origin and destination of the human. By being vague, Chmelarz stimulates speculations and provokes the curiosity of the recipient. He/she wants to explore that part which cannot be seen, namely privacy.
Mariette Pathy Allen intrudes in her series „Tonye“ on the private sphere of the other body. After direct confrontations with members of a transsexual community in which she encountered existential questions about identity, she met Tonye: A woman, who exposed herself to a sex change. Allen recorded the moments before the surgery, the surgery itself and the desired result. She disclosed the body as a battlefield of sexual and social identity and also the portrayed person’s the personal obsession with the body. The stereotypical images of male/female, beautiful/ugly or slim/fat get muddled up and uncover the average, simplified views of the normal body. The artist was successful to catch the moment of reincarnation of the portrayed, „new“ person in this photographic series.

Sabine Schaschl
texts by: Dr. Gisela Steinlechner

BILDER Nr. 165
Gast Bouschet

Pictures, photographic prints... From what? Why?
Pictures do not have a clear mission. Photography has a lot to do with thought-processes: with the intricacy of thinking. Reality is a compromise between many, very subjective perceptions. If you are interested in stories about reality, you must not be content with examining traces, you have to think about ways of transferring reality.
Everyone who visits my exhibitions becomes part of a creative process. Of course everybody can have a look at the pictures, judge them to be beautiful or ugly and go back home. I do not try to prompt viewers into a direct participation with any tricks. However, it is important for me to keep this boundary open and not to tell the stories to the end. This also concerns my films. Telling stories in a classic narrative way does not interest me. Rather, it is important for me to build up relations between my pictures and those in the mind of the person who looks at them: the aim is to get different realities together. My work is not laid out to be theoretical. The essential point for me is to mediate models of stories which continually emerge and crumble again.
Confusion is reality... Perception is only possible through confrontation. Contexts light up briefly and disappear again. The pictures conceal as much as they show. They contain a loss which is hard to designate but which is noticeable. Relationships are more determined by changeability and transitoriness than by certainties. The two media photography and film seem virtually ideal for me to portray this continuous development of occurrences and accidents.
Gast Bouschet, August 2000

Jim Forster

My work explores photographic imagery through fictional narratives, and plays with some of the assumptions that underlie them. It draws on the simple, mass consumption imagery of brochure advertising, magazine photo romances and children’s learning materials, all of which contain potent subtexts about the world they portray.
Story telling through pictures offers a means of communicating in a direct, almost shorthand style. It is one of the oldest forms of visual language, predating the widespread use of text. In our present-day image-swamped culture, the photo story is seen as a crude form of communication, lacking the subtlety to deceive the viewer into believing its surface message and is frequently used to depict (and often parody) basic human emotions.
This apparently direct form interests me; there are no attempts to create or simulate real experience – the images are unmistakable from any documentation or record of reality. In this sense the photo story is transparently simple - a progression from one composed, fictional illusion to another. But for me it becomes more complex when the narrative content itself addresses notions of illusion, interrogating its own simple form and posing questions about the characters, objects and settings portrayed.

The 2 photo series in this exhibition show highly constructed ‘role plays’ where characters are photographed performing in provocative psychodramas. The images are illustrative, the roles stereotyped and the environments stylised. This sense of the artificial gives them a humorous, though slightly disturbing quality because the protagonists are ‘objects’ in both a pictorial and a narrative sense, manipulated by each other and the storyteller. As well as exploring notions of ‘real’ and ‘assumed’ identity, through disguise and stylised costumes, the pictures also allude to the act of looking and being looked at, where the viewer’s attention echoes the voyeurism in the images. The pictures have a ritualistic and sometimes obsessive quality in their depiction of the role playing behind everyday situations and seem to show acts of encounter and confrontation, exploring the uneasy relationship between appearances and the associations or feelings behind them.

Jim Forster. July 2000.

Markus Lang

< What am I seeing here?

< Our habits of seeing are completely focused on the process of recognition, on identifying objects, people, colors and structures as quickly as possible.In Markus Lang’s photographic work, this insightful aspect of visual perception is picked out as a central theme on different levels and is thwarted at the same time.
The starting point are pictures from films (moments from a lavishly produced continuum) which are put on pause, cut out, and edited and enlarged digitally. Since the photographic view concentrates on visually condensed events, something similar to a dramatic pause emerges. Through a series of decisions and edits (concerning clips, colors, definition and size) a certain picture is brought to be viewed. One, which has never existed in the film in such a way and which cannot prove a different origin except this one. What has been found by the photographer and put into picture, is disentangled from its history/origin in the same act, just as if released to an imaginary disposal. To which reality of images does the sky, which is being explored by both airplanes, belong to? Its concocted blue would not stand up to a reality check. For just this reason, it becomes a projection for possible imaginations of light and space. The recognized objects (a car, a certain gesture, a fireball, a mood), which are thereby marked by significance, counteract the process of technical abstraction in images. This always present moment of disintegration makes that what is seen disappear into the structure of visibility.
The central factors of movement and time for the film medium also play an important role in the aesthetics of images of these photographic works. Different qualities of time clash in a virtual moment: the fleeting running time of film images, the extended time of screen-shots, and finally the stretched time of the printing process when the enlarged picture is put together line by line. By rearranging such condensed shots to series, another factor of time becomes relevant. It refers to the course of an event by citing the additive principle of the film. However, it is the omissions, the shots not shown, which open up the series of shots to a dramatic and narrative space.

Dr.Gisela Steinlechner
BILDER Nr. 164
Shadow Faces

Photographic work by Christine Elsinger(1999 / 2000)
C-Prints, Lithfilm, foil

The starting point of the photographic work “SHADOW FACES” are faces/- fragments from different areas of media, absorbed and captured so to speak, in passage, in transient consideration. The „Persons“ remain unrecognized and nameless. “SHADOW FACES” are associative faces, which brought in a new context, appear transformed yet nevertheless familiar to the viewer; be it through the focus of a recurring glance or through a vague memory of something formerly familiar. They illuminate the frequent change of visual charms, as well as moments of the disappearance and re-emergence of indefinite, but familiar impressions.
In the photographic work Shadow Faces , I deal, as in previously released series, with the continuation of the so-called „X.Ü. “Bild“ - idea.
X = arbitrary subject Ü = condensation, cover, layering
The purpose of superimposing several layers of photos is a structural condensation of the photographic symbols, causing the intensity of the picture to increase. The transparent photographic surface, created with the X.Ü. - Technology of a multi-layered photo composition, releases the concentration on what’s behind, hidden; creating new space for imagination, variation and surprise.

Christine Elsinger

Expropriate Interiors

For a number of years I have been working on themes of love and intimacy. as a gay man, I am always aware of how the codes of behavior change depending on the situation in which I find myself, bringing together the issue of public and private behaviors very much to the fore. This body of paintings examines the nature of public and private domains by addressing issues of intimacy, desire and companionship. Furthermore, this work questions conventional reading of painting, photography, and the way images from mass media are consumed by blurring the lines that divide them.
My work has evolved out of an attempt to understand the notion of taste, good, bad and acceptable. This work implicates taste on many levels and it is the play among these different layers that I am drawing on. For example, the links between the freedom of a splatter of paint and the messiness of day-to-day living are never taken into account in the pristine and beautifully designed interiors of magazines like Martha Steward Living (Architectural Digest). What is the line dividing sloppiness from a well-intended brush stroke? Expressiveness of paint strokes or ideas, have their boundaries in a world that is being presented to the general public.
I am interested in the way Living and other lifestyle publications expose private living spaces. These magazines “tastefully” depict domestic scenes that instantly become part of the public domain. Their interiors tease us with visions of success, comfort and pleasure. They tempt us with ideal sanctuaries where private fantasies might be explored and fulfilled. Correspondingly, the figures in my work make a direct link to the way the public perceives the nude (male) body, representations of sex and how these homes are exposed for general consumption. The nude males that I insert into these idealized homes are intentionally appropriated from gay porn. These magazines are also made to tease. Like the transition from private space into the public spectacle, sex acts become pornography when made public. The inclusion of these figures also raises the specter of fantasy and illusion, putting a further twist on these domestic scenes by furnishing them with a gay male perspective.
Through my redesigning of domestic interiors, I am directing attention to and broadening the relationship between voyeurism and consumption. I am painting figures into these empty domestic scenes thus inviting viewers into the public rendering of private fantasies and taking them beyond the pristine pages of the magazine.

Johannes Zits
KÖRPER III year: 2000,
texts by: Sabine Schaschl

BILDER Nr. 163

In the third part of the “Bodies” exhibition series, the FOTOGALERIE WIEN has selected four artists whose work addresses the pornographic representation of the body. The Greek word “pornographia” was originally used to refer to the lives, activities and customs of prostitutes. In the Hellenic world, sexual intercourse was understood as related to divine revelation and was thus treated as a legitimate source for poetry. With the dawn of the Christian Age, however, “pornographia” was increasingly used to refer more broadly to various descriptions of the sexual act. The Christian School coupled the act of sex with marital procreation, such that non-procreative sex was officially regarded as morally reprehensible. This point of view in turn influenced legal and civil guidelines, according to which certain pornographic were now classified as criminal. Pornographic images continue to elicit censorious responses today - such restrictions hint at the limitations prescribed by contemporary societies.
In her “Rorschach Series,” Candice Breitz reads beyond the pornographic image as it is captured photographically. Taking pictures from pornographic magazines as her raw material, she cuts these into fragments, then reassembles them newly, now mirrored symmetrically across a central axis. In psychiatric practice, the ‘Rorschach Test’ (in which the patient is asked to read a diagram originally formed by a blob of paint folded in the center of a piece of paper, such that a mirror image emerges), is used as a means of prompting free association, through which denied obsessions, wishes and fantasies can be expressed. Breitz’s “Rorschach Series” withdraws the pornographic body from familiarity, as individual legs, arms, chests, and eyes are newly combined into constellations which allude to ornamental design, vegetation or science fiction. In their ambivalence, they on the one hand evoke denied and unspoken fantasies, while on the other hand commenting on the serial reproducibility of the human body in the age of cloning and genetic engineering. Far removed from the pornographic material that is their starting point, Breitz’s images leave the explicit body in their wake as they confront questions of future bodies.
Alfred Wetzelsdorfer also draws on pornographic magazines, concentrating his photographic investigations on diverse props and sex toys. His manipulations are consciously aesthetic in their visual settings. The artist sets black and red latex masks, pulled over anonymous heads, in front of blue, pink and white backgrounds. The aestheticization of latex masks, usually associated primarily with sado-masochistic sexual practices, prevents the possibility of reflection on the context and event represented, and simultaneously allows ironic and playful moments to emerge. These photos are freed the restrictions set by porno magazines, in which men and women play predefined roles. Alfred Wetzelsdorfer’s work might instead be compared to the seduction mechanisms set in motion by the advertising industry, which tantalizingly places products against idealized backdrops.
Magdalena Frey’s photography "Quelle" draws on personal experience, moving towards the clarification of her material and experience. She points her lens at the female genitalia - too often described and repesented as shameful according to social discourse. While the penis enjoys the designation “phallus” – with the consequent connotations of power and intensity - there are no equally powerful connotations for the vagina. Instead, the female sex is usually concealed and only ever treated bashfully. Directly and analytically, the artist redresses these and other similar social definitions inherited from the past in her work.
In his photography, Daniel Brunemer deals with people who voluntarily allow themselves to be photographed during sexual intercourse. He makes announcements calling for subjects in newspapers, or responds to similar announcements. The resulting photographs are marked by ambiguity. Are we seeing these people from the point of view of the photographer or of those photographed? The artist claims that he is demonstrating the interaction between individuals or the loneliness of the individuals portrayed, more than the actual individuals themselves. It is finally left to the viewer to choose a perspective from which to view these charged scenes.

see Ernest Borneman, Lexicon of Love, Munich, 1968, page 243

Sabine Schaschl
KÖRPER II year: 2000,
texts by: Sabine Schaschl

BILDER Nr. 162
Bodies II

The second part of the theme complex ”bodies” at the Fotogalerie Vienna has to do with artificially created, reproduced, cloned, and manipulated bodies. Since the successful cloning of the sheep dolly, ethical, religious, and moral concerns - at least in the animal kingdom – have been overcome, and the question of a future human clone hangs over our heads like Damocles’ sword - with all the hopes and fears bound to it.
Since the fifties, medical research has been working with cloned human ”material”, such as those tumor cells, which were taken from a long since dead ”provider” - person. Presently, individual organs can be artificially reproduced easily based on slight quantities of actual human cell material. American doctors and lawyers are already fighting over this future gold, which they predict will be in the patent rights on artificially created organs. More than ever the body stands in a tense, pulsating field between science, culture and society, and finally between reality, fiction and utopia.
Dieter Huber seizes this moment of bodily dislocation and destabilization in his computer-generated photos, which ”dock on” to the familiar and real, however simultaneously push over these elements of security. Phenomena and things which one can name and supposedly therefore comprehend, become shaky after close observation of Huber’s work-in-progress series of “clones.” Human organs, plants or landscapes are of course still recognizable as such, but are however marked by fusion and groupings, which are unknown and evoke both curiosity and feelings of disgust. A clone is a genetically uniform cell or a multi-celled organism resulting from asexual reproduction. The horrible vision of identical duplication from live ”base material” is based on the fear of the loss of the individual. Ironically, it appears that just that point in time, at which human development has reached a maximum in individualism, is also the one which makes this achievement falter again because of the possibility of endless duplication – because duplication of an individual means nothing else than the end of the individual.
Herwig Turks’ ”Superorgans” share their experimental field and scope with Hubers’ ”clones”, whereby Turk deals with photographic detail of real human organs and digital mirror techniques. What is special about the aesthetic operation is the chosen detail and the successful, apparently casual mutation of the corner of an eye into a vaginal form, thereby claiming all possible pertinent connotations immediately. The subtlety of the cleavage may then assume monstrous characteristics. Minute bodily hairs appear thorny and evoke the potential danger of injury of the delicate callous landscape once more. Herwig Turk avoids direct interfaces and prefers an indirect, altered mirror axis. The mirror axis is, ”as Slavoj Zizek claims, the place in the picture which sets the symbolic movement of the interpretation in gait. A gap in the center of the symbolic order around which the dispersed field of the significant is synthesized repeatedly; which initiates the creation of symbolic structures and definitions of ‘Superorgans,” thereby implying the impossibility of the exclusive and consistent constitution of each individual.” (Matthias Michalka)
Margret Eicher also confirms a formal disassociation from actual reality in her artistic work. In doing this however, she reaches back to a copying technique that makes it possible, to a certain degree, for her to exclude a personal signature. A photo of a male baby taken in back light serves as the basis for her installation, ”Boygroup,” which was reproduced in multitude. Head to head or foot to foot they hang threaded from the ceiling and produce an uneasy feeling in the viewer. With the motive of the baby, Margret Eicher hits the core biotechnological visions of the cloned person, and with it, the fear of ”super-humans” in unrestricted numbers. Genocide and aimed production by selected persons lie close together, and when it becomes possible to chose which kind person is suitable for duplication, there will soon also be voices which believe to know which kind of persons are not ”suitable” for it. Still, the genetic bomb ticks on.

Sabine Schaschl
BILDER Nr. 161
Joerg Burger

The shown large format, partly multiple component photographic works show controversial aesthetic formulations colliding with each other: gestures become sculpturally disguised symbols and collages. Theatrical sequences that are condensed into one picture hang next to those importunate, misplaced short glances on empty scenes, which seem to be reduced to their architecture. These are not pure reproductions of reality, no clear objects, respectively, having any relation to reality, but they become constellations of reality condensed into codes, where connections that are normally hidden come to light. Banality can suddenly, almost insidiously, become a territory of the mysterious and wondrous things can be seen in everyday life. The pictures leave a track of dissecting perception that changes identities and takes objects, gestures, places, and situational events out of context and concentrates their different accents into one medial language. The collection of works demonstrates a certain simple directness in formulation and expression, as a reflexive construction of possibilities and effects of the language of pictures, without any particular method, without a system, but with emotional security. The frontality and format of the pictures strengthen the ceremonial and often scenic quality and lend them an emotional, if not quite aggressive expression that discards stylistic inambiguity and positions itself firmly against intellectual mysticism. These are colourful and aggressive pictures that show content, present as constitutional elements that are ambivalent. The photographs are surely not narrative, but evocative and created as an especially personal realisation. Content as such is difficult to describe, hermetically sealed, left to symbolism and the reaction of the beholder. The pictures hint, they do not define conclusively and become passions with any precision or described by visual or atmospheric aids.
Joerg Burger, 3. 19, 2000

Walter Mirtl

If the endeavour to make illustrations of nature gives photography the greatest chance to recognise reality, then the fascination with photographic pictures lies in showing the previously unseen, unknown, and simultaneously in recognising what has already been experienced.

My mostly in large format photographic works in colour or black and white show objects, which, in their daily presence, fall victim to thoughtless intimacy. Combined with humans and depictions of animals that are placed in the scene with symbolic gestures, they create tension between the unknown and the familiar. The calculated placement of the familiar, which simultaneously leads to the hopelessly strange, takes the important step into the absurd.
That’s how familiar, banal objects and situations whose meaning and purpose is firmly established and therefore fulfil certain expectations, in the interplay between arrangement and standards of illustration, as well as light and focus, suddenly appear in a context which cannot be resolved with logic. This causes a breach; in place of the familiar comes speechlessness; the content in the pictures is deprived of any language association, it is a unique experience. It is the attempt to use the language of pictures as the only possible means for expression. The associated ambiguity is a decisive moment in my work. It follows that the assignment of numbers, instead of titles, seemed to be the better choice for the photo indicators.
Walter Mirtl 3.20.2000
BILDER Nr. 160
Tatsumi Orimoto
Communication through the Tire Tube

The adventure of communication between old and young in greater Tokyo as photographed by Tatsumi Orimoto and seen by Johannes Lothar Schroeder

The three old ladies look monstrous with car tires on their shoulders, meeting for tea, lounging on the living room couch, or meeting in the backyard in front of the camera. The artist’s mother with her neighbourhood friends in Kawasaki City, a city that has been swallowed by the conglomerate, Tokyo.
If the mother were not 80, her son 50 years old as well as an artist whose roots reach back to the Fluxus Scene in 1960’s and 70’s New York City, one would think that Tatsumi Orimoto is a naughty boy playing a bad prank on three ladies. Of all things, why does he burden them with old, worn tires from motorcycles and other vehicles? If one examines the Photographs closely, one notices that the three ladies carry the weight hanging around their necks with ease. They are not even feigning good humour to a bad game, no, they actually make a good impression; somewhat stoic, but all participants seem to get along. Social life is evidently intact: The three old ladies drink their tea together, live in their own four walls and have their social contacts. They don’t need the services of the various companies that send their employees rolling through the city to provide the elderly with their necessities: food on wheels, ambulant care etc.
Documentary Intervention in Everyday Life
Tatsumi Orimoto calls the pieces in which he includes people he has met during his travels, i.e. as the bread-man or those who he adorns with bracelets and earclips, communication art. Either he or his assistants photograph the intervention, and these photographs, which number in the thousands, show people who stop whatever their work and put forth their best side in full concentration. Orimoto decorates them with strange artefacts and things and allows them to shine genuinely and honourably. In all their seriousness, these actions are also related to humour because we can only laugh or chuckle at those things and situations which are no longer frighteningly strange yet not completely familiar. That is how we appear, when new or distant objects are suddenly brought close to us: both unsure of ourselves and misplaced, or things seem ridiculous. We call this situation crazy or feel that we are out of place. So what is it with these surrealistic pictures of worn black car tires around the old ladies’ necks? What are they doing there? The used tires have been taken off their wheels and have become dysfunctional. That picture alone would be enough to draw a metaphor for age in our time, where the elderly become a burden for those who want to determine society’s tempo. As far as this burden cannot be reduced, it is divided financially, politically regulated, and technically organised. Ambulant care for the elderly becomes a technical part of service oriented societies, which connect those who do not drive to the mobile urban infrastructure and current business.
The Provocation of Persistence
Slapstick movies accompanied the transition into automated industrial mass production in the 1920’s, and drew their humour from the now superfluous behaviours and movements of those who came from a context of familiarity and craftsmanship to the city centres of mass production. Modern methods of travel and processes accelerated by machines made those with their old habits seem so out of place, that it appeared comic. Today, where we have become accustomed to the speed of everyday life, endurance, static and immobility can make us feel estranged when the routine of acceleration is disrupted by traditional behaviour, unused vehicles, limping or thick skinned people. Orimoto’s photographs show pictures of people on the periphery of acceleration, in transition to a service oriented society whose wheels cut into a traditional, quiet, contemplative life.
The lives of the elderly tread in place, their everyday life is a cycle. The title, “Tire tube Communication” also alludes to the repetitiveness and rituals of a set routine. In this context, the circularity of the tire becomes like the circle itself, a symbol of the perfection and completion of the life cycle. At its end it tends towards the beginning, therefore connecting the calmness and honour of age with childhood, that dreamy game, the unintentional and the joy in the moment. Even the intervention with the heavy motorcycle tires cannot bother the old ladies who have been meeting for a long time. They sit in their spots and form the quintessence of persistence, which displays a provocation of restlessness. Apparently, wheels roll into all aspects of life, but it occasionally becomes evident that the dynamic of speed vectors is reversible.

Herbert Preyer-Bayer

A Photo series by Herbert Preyer-Bayer
Executing organ: Treasury of the “Dorotheum.”

This work was not commissioned, but was connected to a financial loan each time. I pawned the camera, one of the basic instruments of my photographic work, twelve times in the years 1996/976 in the Vienna Dorotheum. Each respective treasurer examined the functions of the camera according to regulations by pressing the shutter release. With each time the treasurer therefore took a photograph. I collected and assigned these photos to their respective pawn tickets.

Dorotheum: State institute equal to public funds in Austria, which lends to those who provide a security at low interest, auctions (art objects, furniture) and takes objects for saving. Headquarters: Vienna; branches in Austrian states. The Dorotheum is under supervision of the Interior Ministry (Bundesministerium fuer Inneres). It was founded in 1707 by the District Pawn office and moved into the building of the former Dorotheenklosters (convent) in the Dorotheengasse (hence the name) in 1787.
Brockhaus, Bd. 5, p.629.
KÖRPER I year: 2000,
Body I
texts by: Sabine Schaschl

BILDER Nr. 159
Koerper I

The threshold to the new millennium is littered with conceptions of the disappearing body, which began to manifest itself in the 80’s and 90’s in conjunction with the “dismantling of the self” in the face of technological advances. In 1982, Dietmar Kamper and Christoph Wulff philosophised about the “Return of the Body,” whose disappearance was implied. The Canadian film director, David Cronenberg, puts the fragmented body at the forefront of his film, “Crash,” where copulation becomes possible only in the aftermath of automotive accidents; and Paul Virilio predicts that information media and bio-industrial intervention will “Conquer the Body.” Modern art’s concentration on one of the recurring themes in art history must also be seen against the backdrop of the body’s impending loss of power. The first exhibition at the Fotogalerie Wien to deal with the theme complex of the “body” focuses on the “self”, the actual opposite of the body. Since the dawn of the modern age the relationship between the body and “the self” is expressed as the relationship between the body, an object not belonging to the personality, and the subject, the bodiless self. Self-consciousness, therefore, can rule over the body, and the body then be forgotten if not for the “individual, who feeds off the psychological-spiritual whole.”
Michaela Moscouw knows about the desire for that entity, because the search for the orientation of the body and that of the self is existential for her. Where does the self start and the “body” begin, where do they agree, and where do they lose each other again? Each attempt at extraction is manifested as “tracks left by the body” in the “life-size” photograms. The performance of the work process at the small, reduced and familiar place of the own apartment underlines the retreat into the chosen prison of the self that looks for the far and wide within itself. Light sensitive paper and bodies embrace each other mutually, only to retreat in the next moment. The tracks of existence left behind come closer to the self.
Rosa Brueckl and Gregor Schmoll rely on historically determined and socially based poses and gestures and create a visual categorisation of their contemporary forms in their photographic installations. Brueckl and Schmoll express the biblical theme of Adam and Eve, who discover their naked bodies and are ashamed, in the tradition of the self-portrait and in combination with Hockneyist elements create a contemporary parallel. The body and the self take on an outer examining role, and can then relate to the taken poses and their connotations.
The search for the self stands in the foreground of Maria Haas’ photographic exhibition. The choice of photos describes the fascination with the body and the psychological processes involved in the assumption of different roles. Color and compositional elements of single sections remind of historic “Madonna with Child” representations, while the central photography with open mouths reminds of pornographic body replacement. The bandwidth of the constructed, often in several sequences layered poses plays with the observing voyeur and the self related perception, where the self does not show itself from behind the beautiful appearance.
As Carl Aigner brought forth, one can filter out constant moments in the autobiographical, the urban and in connection with that, the political level of an identity in the work of Josef Wais. In the photo series, “Tango Schlaf”, the autobiographical view is concentrated on the conflict with sexual perception, that usually falls victim to social taboos. Formal moments and aesthetic thinking determine each of the self-portraits, which range from mysterious arrangements of color in a foreboding ambience, from occasional hints to detailed narratives. Blurry contours and moving poses provoke the imagination. The “self” dominates the body and turns the voyeur a cold shoulder.
Per Huettner takes an ironic position to the normal use of pornography and demonstrates his personal research in new ways of using pornography in his video. Single pages of porno magazines stick to his naked, sticky body and add up to a garment. Pornography lies between nudity and being covered.

Sabine Schaschl
Retrospective V
BILDER Nr. 158
Sensitive position finding
Reflections on Photography as a Method of Perception

I want to tell a picture fairy tale
that doesn‘t say “once upon a time”
but rather “that’s how it is”.

Elfriede Mejchar

The fascination with experiencing a subjective perception of present reality in order to reach no more and no less than material certainty through a photographic view, is cultivated by the decisive characteristic feature of Elfriede Mejchar’s multi-faceted oeuvres. Driven by an unquenchable lust for a life in pictures and guided by a certain feel for aesthetic qualities, the intriguing doyenne, whom Otto Breicha affectionately calls the ‘restless retiree’, has in the last five decades created a unique contribution to domestic photographic art. With balanced pictographic designs, composed to the last detail, she was able to create a refreshing program that contrasts with the ubiquitous trends of glamour, intellect and constructs. They belong to the most remarkable domestic creations of the past half-century.
The conditions under which this work of art was created are remarkable as well. Elfriede Mejchar was employed by the Austrian National Office for Historical Buildings and Monuments her entire professional life, under whose commission she photographically documented numerous historical art treasures nation-wide. In the course of her work-related travel, and in the sparse free time available to her, she was able to generate a multitude of artistic works which have one thing in common with the professional documentations: the attentive look, which consistently searches for the peculiarity and uniqueness of the viewed object and still finds living beauty in the incidental moments.
In both cases, she works with relatively neutral as well as monumental picture language, which ennobles the pictured object. A scholar in the archiving of our cultural heritage, but still restricted through the scientific givens she took into consideration, weighed down with experiences of aesthetic perfection, the gifted director of perception turned her attention to everyday occurrences early on. Her main source of interest lay foremost in the status quo, a stock-taking of Vienna’s post-war urban life, which at the same time was formulated as a contest between the possibilities and limits of the medium.
And so the experiments with light and shadow, which were begun around 1950, were already, on the one hand, touching impressions of largely deserted cities. Looking back today, they awaken, thanks to their compositional parsimony and a by now existential appearing symbolism, memories of the days of restoration, in which new spiritual and cultural positions were striven for as well. In these pictorials, people play a subordinate role and are described as anonymous volumina shaped by light and shadow, that are excluded as small and unimportant in the depiction. On the other hand, these early black and white pictures, full of strong contrasts, represent the attempt to draw with light, to trace its refractions and reflections and, when possible, to portrait the light source itself.
The palette of the resulting pictorial representations is abundant: it encompasses the study of a simple glass held against the light, and the toying with the indifferent reflection of the photographer in a clear glass door. It indicates nostalgic street scenes in the light of the late afternoon as well as abstract figures that, upon closer examination, turn out to be fragments of a wire-netting. Despite a clear chronology that can be stylistically followed with the use of light and surface organisation, there is no substantially linear sequence and therefore no narrative correlation to be discerned. The pages may stand alone or can be rearranged over and over again.
To this day, Elfriede Mejchar has remained loyal to working on these kinds of work groups that, as a rule, are not considered continuous narratives, and for lack of a defined conceptual procedure, cannot be considered as a series. With few exceptions, the photographs, assembled respectively in Portfolios, were created over a span of more than two years (whereby extremely long periods of time were not rare either). Between 1965 and 1988, she created idyllic countryside pictures in splitted coloring. These pictures paid tribute to the simple beauty of the quarters, over whose soft hillside landscapes, flanked with old fruit trees, a dramatic cloudy sky spans. In addition, the sensitive eye of the photographer picked out the successive transformations which were brought about through technological advancement. She uncovered the appearance of the industrial society by seeing through the abrupt criss-cross of electrical wires and memorial statues, through the traffic roads and the calm of the woods, and discovering the beauty, the special, and the noteworthy, despite all the disproportionality and ugliness.
With a sleepwalking certainty, she succeeds in crossing the border between art and ‘kitsch’, for despite all of the representation’s obligations in creating distance to its objects, the shaped perception remains. As clear as the testimonies of the documentary and narrative pictorial representations may be, the neutrality of the eye remains aware, the visual attentiveness restrained, and the perspective conspicuously unspectacular. Elfriede Mejchar specifically demonstrates her rare genius in the transparency of her representations. As free as her treatment of various photographic shape methods may appear, the inner-pictorial organisation is - without exception –subtle and with careful attention to the details of the big picture.
Between 1969 and 1975, the puristic nature studies (lavishly conducted using the Äquidensiten -technic), have to do with reduced representations of leaves, blossoms and stems, that were, however, not assembled according to a scientific interest but solely according to whether their aesthetic quality was able to be constructed into a herbary. Elfriede Mejchar’s specific treatment of the motive clearly comes to bear through the softly blurred pictures of the photographs which, laid side by side, were aesthetically perfectly calculated to the last detail, sharp, and structured.
Her photographic eye treats the physically perceptual world to a symmetrical interest and legitimizes even the most insignificant theme as picture-worthy. This places her on a classical grand scale as a creator of art, from the choice of pictures to the lighting to the finishing off of technically perfect realisations. For even if she remains loyal to the practised shape method beyond the progression of the various fashions and tastes, and even if her creations appear pleasantly untimely at the time of their creation, the more many of her works are seen today as more modern and more relevant than many other creations of her once internationally renowned colleagues.
Although Elfriede Mejchar remains relatively constant in her representational methods, she does not develop a coherent style. The search for a universal concept of a kind appears to be to no avail. The continuously changing choice of themes already acts as a preventive measure against the danger of repetition, and necessarily describes the exact timely definable moment through the characteristic quality of the pictured objects as well as the created perception.
However, the subjective preferences for specific themes and genres took a fascinating turn. Of the earlier documentary arrangements, in which the specifications of the medium were already implicitly reflected, the field widens to include the free experimentation with the formation of materials and objects to a media critical reflection: she counters the existing construction of gender roles in the mass-media with the example of the luxurious imagination of the female. Whether she fragmented the ideal typical cliches in a collage-like manner and fixed the picture-fragments into scurrilous, almost surrealistic creations, or presented picture stories with clearly erotic connotations herself, just as in the latest created cycle “Das Pelzchen”, the aesthetic intention is clear and appeals equally to a critical as well as sensual audience.
Seen in this respect, the multi-talented oeuvre accomplishes an historical transformation, in which hardly anything that is relevant for the photography of the 20th century genre remained unnoticed, that is perhaps best described as a ‘pictural turn’. Within a few decades, the photographic picture advanced from copying and creating the real present to becoming a kind of ideal, specifically by converting virtual reality to its derivative. Today the picture world sets the standards and practically offers the software for our perception of everyday life. It also illustrates how we need to arrange the hardware of our physical perception, the physical bodies, and beyond that propagates a total instrumentalisation, in which pictures and signs become equivalent functions of a symbolic trade in an overlapping matrix. The real per se, as well as virtual reality and art define themselves through overvaluing. The creations of the latter alone are expected to be clear, exact, condensed and sublime. A right that, with a pinch of subtle humor, Elfriede Mejchar’s work is entitled to. To spite all trends, which glorify the adulation of the transient, the constant disappearing of pictures, her balanced, motionlessly realised compositions insist on consistency. Without exception, they display an understanding of the structured influence of the photographic medium on the artistic view. Nevertheless, they demonstrate a lively and interesting fondness of the physically perceptual reality. They bring an aesthetic hedonism to light, an unbroken lust for play with the pictures, which the vital and incredibly active photographer continues to indulge in.

Edith Almhofer