LIGHT III publisher: Fotogalerie Wien,
Wien: 2016,
Light Qualities
BILDER Nr. 295


: Monday, 21 November at 7 p.m.
Introduction: Ruth Horak
Duration: 22 November 2016–14 January 2017
Finissage and catalogue presentation: Friday, 13 January at 7 p.m.

The Gallery is closed from 22 December 2016 until 9 January 2017.

sponsored by: BKA Kunst; MA7-Kultur; Cyberlab; Bezirkskultur Alsergrund
cooperation partner: Museum der Moderne Salzburg

Photography and light are as closely connected as telephones and sound. Light is not only a precondition for every photographic image and respectively manifested in the name of the medium, it is also responsible for the decisive developments in the area of photography. However light neither was, nor is, just the precondition for making a photograph but also always a challenge too. And, in the area of art in particular, where reference is often made to the surrounding circumstances of the medium, light is one of the many-sided components of photography that encourage reflection. In the Fotogalerie Wien’s special focus for this year light is once again the actor at the centre of our attention. In the three exhibitions, Light Experiments, Light Spaces and Light Qualities it plays both an ideal and formative role – light as a phenomenon, as the contrast with darkness, as a subject and a motif and also its influence and direct effect on what is depicted and the materials employed. How can light be fixed and rendered visible? How can it be installed in a space? What qualities of light are we talking about? Which sources? Temperatures? And how subjective is our perception in comparison to what the equipment records?

Henry Fox Talbot appended an important coda to photography: it was, he said, a self-image of nature that ‘was obtained by nothing more than the mere action of light’. In the third part of the exhibition series, Light, this is taken – at least in part – quite literally. Light with its incredibly atmospheric qualities becomes the main actor – moonlight or sunlight, the effects of the sun’s position and season, artificial light sources or light as set decoration. Light, light source, position, movement, changing colour temperatures etc. are all registered in scientifically experimental or subject-specific documentary, often using an analogue photographic recording system. In this context it is important to note that all contributions use the physical and chemical processes of analogue photography i.e. light sensitive film or paper which is exposed (sometimes with long exposure times) in order to invest light with a body. The camera which is used as intermediary functions as a substitute for our eyes which would miss all these qualities of light because they are protected by chromatic adaption (white balance) or an instinctive looking away if it becomes too strong.

Veronika Burger’s multi-part set consists of a video, a double slide projection, curtains, photographs, reproductions from books and, most importantly, two standard lamps with blue shades. The installation orbits these two – even if the lights go out, there is still light. Originally commissioned in 1987 by the Viennese lampshade maker Elisabeth Kemeter, the two lamps were supposed to appear on the Vienna set of the James Bond film “The Living Daylights”. They were completed and delivered but do not appear in the final version of the film. Burger tells the story of this commission, interviewed the lampshade maker and re-ordered the two shades. Reconstructed from memory, they are from now on at the side of historical documents and descriptions as part of the reconstruction of an event that can only be confirmed by the memories of the participants.

Victoria Coeln
’s chromogrammes result from time-consuming darkroom work. She has been interested in colour phenomena and theories of colour for a considerable time and experiments with the basic colours of light, filters and multiple exposures. She has also been observing the interplay of light and colour in numerous serial exposures. The vibrancy of the chromogrammes derives from the sheets of glass painted with Reprolux transparent colours which she places in the enlarger instead of a film negative. One of the colours that Victoria Coeln finds particularly fascinating is magenta. Since it is not a spectral colour but an additive mixture of red and blue, the name for it only begins to become widespread in the mid-nineteenth century. Colour spaces that are imbued with particular depth and saturation open up through the superimposition of up to five layers of exposure with different intensities of coloured glasses, the intermediate processes (painting and photogram) and a degree of blurriness.

Inge Dick is well known for being able to liberate an infinite number of colours from a white wall. Since the 1990s a simple white surface serves her as a stage on which daylight in all its nuances and intensities performs. Ignored by lazy eyes, the camera undertakes to see the differentiations in the colour nuances that settle on this surface during the day – between sunrise and sunset – deep midnight blue to bright midday white. Filmed over three days and then cut into short chronological sequences that make it possible for our eyes to make comparisons and inscribed with exact time signatures, white slips into an infinite number of roles. In the "Jahreszeitenzyklus" [Cycle of Seasons] the fluctuations in daylight in our temperate zones or the temperature of the light in spring, summer, autumn and winter are rendered visible.

Sarah Hablützel from Switzerland exposed, or caused to be exposed in Hamburg a sheet of photo paper for 30 seconds each day for a whole month from 22 November to the shortest day of the year, 22 December. Following the same procedure, though not daily, she did the same in New York, Helsinki, Oslo, Singapore, Tokyo and Zurich. The resulting 66 luminogrammes, including raindrops, are given coordinates – in the titles – and hung in a corresponding grid. In this way the 74° 0’ W – 139° 46’ E or the north-south axis of locations where they were recorded is also demonstrated in the exhibition space.

Ulrike Königshofer built a special apparatus to make Sechs Sekunden Mondlicht [Six Seconds of Moonlight]. Once again the analogue processes and thus the interplay of time and light or the most unhindered and direct depiction of a natural light source take centre stage. The 15 monochromes document the moonlight of a lunar cycle between 20 February and 14 March 2015, weather permitting. The atmospheric results – the yellow, orange and red tones – which allow us to experience the moonlight in another form almost contradict the fact-based processes and the artist’s interest in scientific method.

‘36 shots in 36 days, each a 24 hour exposure with an open shutter’, read the details of Michael Michlmayr’s contribution. This maximum exposure to light in March of 2016 was a challenge to the photochemical process – on the one hand to get any image of the world out there at all, given the long exposure times and, on the other, to capture the sun itself even if that was mainly in the form of burn marks. ‘The extreme over-exposure led to the auto-development of the negative material so that the film only had to be fixed and washed in water.’ The slanted ‘cut’ that the sun left on the film is the ‘form of the course of the sun, its changing position and intensity during a clear day’ (M.M.). The overlapping of these light trails provide a reference point for the ‘movement of the landscape’ during those 36 days and thus a visualisation of the progression of time and space.

Exposures, a series by Günther Selichar which has 11 parts altogether, shows format-filling close-ups of lamps in the sense of video and film camera built-in permanent lighting or external studio lights that are synchronised with capturing devices. As with Selichar’s series, Screens, cold, these ‘tools’ of photography, video and film are portrayed in a factual and documentary way with no differentiation made between small LEDs and large bulbs. Here, as with Inge Dick, the eye also resists – this time looking directly into the light which is set to its brightest. It is only in the photo that we are able to observe the form of the bulb and the diffuser discs. The thematic levels come together in the English term ‘exposures’: recording images, a state of being unprotected, radiation, revelation but – also quite literally – the film exposure, where the light inscribes itself into the sensor.

Ruth Horak and Petra Noll, for the collective

DIVERSITY OF MODERNITY publisher: Fotogalerie Wien,
Wien: 2016,
Part I of the Art Exchange between FOTOGALERIE WIEN and the ORGANHAUS in Chongqing, China
BILDER Nr. 294


Monday, 10 October at 7 p.m.
Introduction: Yi Xiaoting, ORGANHAUS, Chongqing, and PRINZpod Brigitte at 7.30 p.m.  
Artist Talks: Li Yu & Liu Bo, Yang Yuanyuan, Zhao Tianji at  8.30 p.m.
Asian cooking event & music: at 9 p.m.
Duration: 11.11. bis 12.11.2016

sponsored by: BKA Kunst; MA7-Kultur; Cyberlab; Bezirkskultur Alsergrund
thanks to: Várfok Galéria, Budapest

 The exhibition Diversity of Modernity is the first part of an art exchange between the FOTOGALERIE WIEN and the ORGANHAUS in Chongqing, China. ORGANHAUS is an autonomous institution organised and run by artists and curators with the aim of encouraging contemporary Chinese art and organising international exchanges and exhibition projects. ORGANHAUS is located in Chongqing, a city in South-west China and it has at its disposal a large exhibition space and ateliers for residencies. Two artists, Yang Yuanyuan and Zhao Tianji, will develop location specific projects for the Vienna show. Part II of the exhibition exchange will take place in 2017 at the ORGANHAUS with Austrian artists.

Ongoing globalisation processes since the beginning of the 21st century have led to complex restructuring of social values and ways of life. Relentless new developments and different approaches and definitions of modernity have effected sustainable social changes. China, until recent decades characterised by a rural, agricultural society, has undergone a rapid transformation resulting in today’s highly developed industrial and informational society. The previously strictly controlled planned economy has developed into a commercial and market-oriented economy with implications for the contemporary art scene. Contemporary Chinese art is no longer limited to the periphery but has assumed an important role in the global art scene. The exhibition will show how these rapid developments are reflected and is divided into three sub-topics: history/identity; urbanisation/landscape and location-specific aspects/nomadism.

The starting point of Yang Yuanyuan’s projects is usually intensive historical research. She experiments with various ways of telling visual stories in which reality and fiction are entwined. She describes her work as being a kind of weaving: pictures from different periods are woven together with texts into a ‘pictorial atlas’. She often chooses to present these in the form of an installation or a book.

In her work Zhao Tianji reacts to found materials and everyday situations. Most often she acts in public space where she carries out temporary actions. She makes references to both tradition and the constant changes in Chinese society. The artist is planning a location (Vienna) specific project for her contribution to the exhibition in the FOTOGALERIE WIEN.

In the works Meet by Chance and Paradise’s Garden Li Yong plays with various references to Chinese history (Cultural Revolution, Peking Opera etc.). His theatre setting-like stagings are bizarre and loaded with symbols. They reflect cultural alienation and the fear of a vague and ambiguous identity.
The work, 16.9 m² is concerned with Wang Haichuan’s longtime interest: the old munitions factory in Chongqing. The living conditions in the 16.9 square meters housing in which workers lived with their families for the last sixty years is described in photographs and interviews. The rooms tell of the standardisation of the time as well as the individual adaptations made by the residents. The quarters will shortly be demolished and the families moved to suburbs on the edge of the city.

The works of the two artists, Li Yu & Liu Bo, pose the question as to why we trust the information from mass media and regard them as reflecting reality. The videos and photo works are re-enactments of bizarre reports in state-sanctioned newspapers and draw a witty and provocative portrait of present-day Chinese society.

Zhang Jiaping’s videos, Territory of Wetlands and Sketch from Nature, weave reality and abstract narration together. As in advertising, real storylines are disrupted by apparently unconnected images. They are, however, linked with each other at a higher level by the universal force generated every minute by visual systems and images.

Ni Kun, Kurator und Leiter Organhaus

LIGHT II publisher: Fotogalerie Wien,
Wien: 2016,
Light Spaces
BILDER Nr. 293


: Monday, 29 August at 7 p.m.
Introduction: Ruth Horak
Duration: 30 August – 1 October  2016
sponsored by: BKA Kunst; MA7-Kultur; Cyberlab; Bezirkskultur Alsergrund
thanks to: Várfok Galéria, Budapest

Photography and light are as closely connected as telephones and sound. Light is not only a precondition for every photographic image and respectively manifested in the name of the medium, it is also responsible for the decisive developments in the area of photography. However light neither was, nor is, just the precondition for making a photograph but also always a challenge too. And, in the area of art in particular, where reference is often made to the surrounding circumstances of the medium, light is one of the many-sided components of photography that encourage reflection. In the FOTOGALERIE WIEN’s special focus for this year Light is once again the actor at the centre of our attention. In the three exhibitions, Light Experiments, Light Spaces and Light Qualities it plays both an ideal and formative role – light as a phenomenon, as the contrast with darkness, as a subject and a motif and also its influence and direct effect on what is depicted and the materials employed. How can light be fixed and rendered visible? How can it be installed in a space? What qualities of light are we talking about? Which sources? Temperatures? And how subjective is our perception in comparison to what the equipment records?

In the second part of the Light trilogy the focus is on Light Spaces. In a similar way to how Gilles Deleuze described motion in the pictorial field of film, Light Spaces should be understood as ‚light catchers’ in which the light is not only free to react and develop but also where it finds limits and stability. Light spaces become visible if materials react to light, shadows wander if light is restricted by small light ‘atriums’ or infinitely perpetuated by mirrors, if thick smoke diffuses the light or insects carry it through the space. Here, artificial light sources create clearly definable local fields of view while scattered natural light is caught by architectural spaces. The installation contributions include the exhibition space itself as a light space above and beyond  the pictorial space of photography.

In his series, Skies – Hommage à Hiroshi Sugimoto, Akos Czigany casts an eye (and his camera lens) on the sky from the courtyards of high buildings. He thus creates a dialogue between earth and sky, architecture and cosmos. References to pairs of opposites − centre-periphery, canvas-frame, abstraction-function, finite and infinite, openness and closeness, nothing and something, black and white. Because there is only one sky but many, variously designed buildings, the visible piece of sky appears in graphically diverse outlines. As far as the light is concerned, Czigany allows himself to be inspired by the biblical creation of the world in which light was created from darkness and by Hiroshi Sugimoto’s series, Theatres. Here long exposure over a whole film is captured in a single shot creating lit-up cinema screens that illuminate the architecture of the room. As in Czigany’s work, the concern here is with the perception of time and space by means of light.

In her work Alek Kawka engages with the spatial expansion of photography in which reflections and light play a pivotal role. In the exhibition she is showing a sculptural installation which is a further development of the prototype of the work, Miastola (2012). Formally, the new object consists of a cupboard with a number of layers of glass shelves with motifs related to ‘the city’ and which generate an illusion of space. The pictorial material on which the work is based consists of her own photographs as well as of images from magazines and archives. These are combined with each other in the form of a three-dimensional collage. By means of a mirror inserted at the top, the different layers are, in turn, focussed into one viewing level. A special light dramaturgy creates a theatrical snapshot which is, in turn, recorded in a photograph.

A central subject of Brigitte Kowanz’s artistic engagement is an examination and consideration of the quality, appearance and depiction of (artificial) light. In both neon light works, Moment and More Light,  she visualises light as a chronological and spatial phenomenon. Using mirrors she was able to give light  three dimensions  which is, in principle, very difficult for the medium. She produced ‘light rooms’ that irritate optical perception and urge reconsideration of apparently fixed visual and cognitive standards.  Furthermore, she refers to the fact that in our present-day media society artificial light is one of the important means of conveying signs and messages. Kowanz  illuminates texts and/or numbers and thus refers to the scale of light and language as coordinates in a system of sensual orientation.

With the almost three-meter-long photograph, Like Hornets to the Flame, Ewald Maurer has created a light space that is unusual and sensual. The work can be understood as a record of flight paths and wing beats of insects encircling the searchlight that has attracted them. Disoriented by the light, they create a confusing but all the more poetic and calligraphic web of lines. The thick, yellow and visually dominant lines are created by the flight of the rapidly flying hornets or other insects such as butterflies, moths, or mayflies. Because of the long exposure times of between 3-5 seconds, the rapidly flying bats that circled for hours in search of prey remain invisible. By stringing together a series of individual events the composition conveys the impression of a kind of ‘light space score’.

Andreas Müller is showing black and white pigment prints from the series, Similes. A cosmic space is suggested with the help of a studio setting. Further, a light source, pointing upwards, and a machine that produces abundant smoke was installed in front of a black background. Reflective particles were carefully strewn into the smoke directly in front of the camera and these appear as small points of light in the photograph. Using formal criteria such as ‘spatiality’ and ‘scattering’ the large amount of picture material was reduced to a selection of 28 images from which eight were then realised as pigment prints. The title Similes refers to engagement with issues of  substantive truth in photographic pictures and, in a more specific sense, with the comparison with astro-photography which produces images that in the final analysis remain intangible and incomprehensible. Thus Similes could be staged or ‘real’.

Nina Schuiki & Helen Zeru Araya from Austria and Ethiopia respectively are showing the video work, Eri Bekentu, which they developed together in Addis Ababa. The artists share an interest in urban transformation processes and their effects on social and political conditions. They also deal with this in the video that was made in the eponymous traditional kebele, (quarter) Eri Bekentu. Translated from Amharic the name means ‘silent scream’. With limited means − though to great effect − they filmed, over an extended period, an empty room with a collapsed roof which allowed sunlight to track through it. The natural light becomes increasingly animated dissolving the room’s  architecture. What develops is a painterly-poetic ‘light space’ that follows its own laws. The film is accompanied by the sounds of a house near by which is still occupied.

Gerold Tagwerker is concerned with examining the phenomenon of light as a manifestation and as a signal-sending element. The artist − influenced by US American minimalism though much more open to experimentation − makes his fluorescent tube lamps blink, flare up or nervously flicker by controlling them electronically. His intention is to examine the mechanisms of disruption and control, randomness and order. The grid, which many minimalists enjoyed using, is also a crucial element in his objects and architecture photos (e.g. nightpieces) where, however, he is primarily interested in the incomprehensible rhythm of interior lighting and the resulting structures.

Ruth Horak and Petra Noll, for the collective

WERKSCHAU XXI - MARIA HAHNENKAMP publisher: Fotogalerie Wien,
Wien: 2016,
BILDER Nr. 292

Opening and Catalogue Presentation: Thursday, 23 June at 7 p.m.
Introduction: Ruth Horak
Duration: 24 June – 29 July 2016
Artist talk with Maria Hahnenkamp: Thursday, 7 July at 7 p.m.
Sponsored by: BKA Kunst; MA7-Kultur, Kultur Burgenland

WERKSCHAU XXI is the continuation of the annual series of exhibitions in the FOTOGALERIE WIEN which has been going on for the last twenty years. They present contemporary artists who have significantly contributed to the development of art photography and the new media in Austria. To date there has been a cross section of work by Jana Wisniewski, Manfred Willmann, VALIE EXPORT, Leo Kandl, Elfriede Mejchar, Heinz Cibulka, Renate Bertlmann, Josef Wais, Horáková + Maurer, Gottfried Bechtold, Friedl Kubelka, Branko Lenart, INTAKT – Die Pionierinnen (Renate Bertlmann, Moucle Blackout, Linda Christanell, Lotte Hendrich-Hassmann, Karin Mack, Margot Pilz, Jana Wisniewski), Inge Dick, Lisl Ponger, Hans Kupelwieser, Robert Zahornicky, Ingeborg Strobl, Michael Mauracher and PRINZGAU/ podgorschek. For WERKSCHAU XXI we have invited the artist Maria Hahnenkamp.

Maria Hahnenkamp is regarded as one of the pivotal artists of the second generation of Austrian feminists whose main concern in her predominantly photographic works is advancing the critical examination and analysis of the status of the female body in our society. In contrast to her predecessors she does not bring her own body into performative and precarious circumstances. Instead, she analyses the social and media treatment of the female body per se or the resultant psychological effects while searching for a manifestation of this complex system of power and subjugation on a level that is simultaneously sensual and intellectual.
Parallel to this, a media immanent involvement is significant in her work – the gossamer thin layer of gelatine of the (analogue) photographs, the carrier of the information in absolute terms, is for Hahnenkamp frequently the site of manual interventions situated between acceptance and attack of this ambivalent surface. Something similar applies to cropping – time and again she elects the more forceful fragment over the informative overall view, thus launching formal resistance to voyeuristic curiosity.
Born in 1959 in Eisenstadt, Maria Hahnenkamp has developed an extensive oeuvre since the late 1980s and realised numerous exhibitions and publications. In the WERKSCHAU, which is being organised as a retrospective, around 30 works will be shown including the 195-part work of abraded photographs which has only been shown once in 1993, the original subject being a female model undertaking a beauty treatment. In addition there will be videos and a – for Hahnenkamp characteristic – slide projection work with details of women’s bodies from historical pictures and fashion magazines.

Ruth Horak and Petra Noll, for the collective

LICHT 1 publisher: Fotogalerie Wien,
Wien: 2016,
BILDER Nr. 291


Opening: Monday, 9 May at 7 p.m.
Introduction: Ruth Horak
Duration: 10 May–11 June 2016

sponsored by: BKA Kunst; MA7-Kultur; Cyberlab, Bezirkskultur Alsergrund

Photography and light are as closely connected as telephones and sound. Light is not only a precondition for every photographic image and respectively manifested in the name of the medium, it is also responsible for the decisive developments in the area of photography. However light neither was, nor is, just the precondition for making a photograph but also always a challenge too. And, in the area of art in particular, where reference is often made to the surrounding circumstances of the medium, light is one of the many-sided components of photography that encourage reflection. In the Fotogalerie Wien’s special focus for this year light is once again the actor at the centre of our attention. In the three exhibitions, Light Experiments, Light Spaces and Light Qualities it plays both an ideal and formative role – light as a phenomenon, as the contrast with darkness, as a subject and a motif and also its influence and direct effect on what is depicted and the materials employed. How can light be fixed and rendered visible? How can it be installed in a space? What qualities of light are we talking about? Which sources? Temperatures? And how subjective is our perception in comparison to what the equipment records?

In the first part of the trilogy, Light Experiments, the immediate effect of the interaction of light, various sources of light and light sensitive material can be observed in both simple and convincing experimental set ups as well as in more complex and intensive ones. How does human sight perceive light compared to a camera or the film in it? Which interventions and additional equipment (flash, time exposure, signal flares) allow artists to achieve images where the relationship between light, time and image capture has been changed?

Harald Mairböck’s series Cubes from his group of works a picture is a camera is a picture is one example of very direct involvement. A pinhole camera made of folded photographic paper brings together a number of photographic parameters: equipment and image, process and material. The folds remain visible as traces of its previous use as a piece of equipment as is the pinhole itself (the aperture through which the light travelled) and, finally, the exposure, light traces which include the spatial perspective (as with every pinhole camera).

Hans Kupelwieser short circuits the two fundamentals of photography, light and light sensitive material without involving an object in between. He developed apparatuses for his ‘lucidogrammes’ and light drawings, that emit light from small openings and either leave a direct impression (as with a photogramme) when the photographic paper surrounds the light source or as a result of a projection, when the light source is at some distance to the paper. If the smaller of the two light sources is moved, the light traces finely drawn lines on the photographic paper. The thickness of the line depends on the speed of the movement.

Jaromír Novotný also reduces photography to its fundamentals in a similarly radical way – in this case to light sensitive paper and development chemicals. His intent is to depict nothing more than the reaction of the affected layers to light. As a painter Novotný is interested in the reverse logic of the medium – ‘the colour black is produced by exposure to light’– and in the characteristic colour spectrum of paper used in colour photography that ranges from creamy white and beige via lilac to a brownish or greenish grey and provides him with a new palette of colours.

Hans-Christian Schink’s black and white panoramas display the fascinating diversity of landscapes scattered all over the world and appear to belong to the tradition of classic landscape and travel photography – if it were not for the foreign bodies in the sky that disrupt the idyll, similary to neon lights that are reflected in a photograph and break its homogeneity. The main title of the approximately 40 part series, 1h, tends to confirm a suspicion: the long exposure time of the shot has solarised the path of the sun as a black line. The various angles of this sun line depend on the place or the time at which it was made (when the sun rose or set or the season). Thus Schink records a camera-specific perception of light from which the real eye is precluded.

Lukas Heistinger takes as his subject the causal connection between light and time as applied to photography and, more specifically, flash as the extreme ‘intermediary’ between the two. An achievement at the end of the 19th century, flash aided the eye to see things that had been invisible till then such as rapid movements. In the video, Der Ultrakurzzeiteffekt und was es noch zu wissen lohnt [The ultra short time effect and what more it pays to know], which is only just one minute long, Heistinger refers to a chapter in a text book on photography from the 1950s and quotes from the lessons in the book in seven scenes which are only visible for fractions of a second though the afterimages are present in the eye for much longer. These are intertwined with examples from photographic and video history such as Rodney Graham’s Illuminated Ravine, William’s product photography or Muybridge’s Dancers, in which the flash as an object plays a pivotal role.

Werner Schrödl also plays darkness against light: with signal flares he lights up the night with 40,000 candela and films the created light spaces which depend on the angles of the signal flares that reach a height of about 250 meters. What reminds of wandering suns in time lapse, are in fact, light-and-shadow trails of only eight or twelve seconds duration in which the landscape is transposed into an unreal state. Viewers are irritated by the flickering and unexpected movements from the shadows that inundate scenes that are normally peaceful.

Robert Bodnar’s Whiteout Horizon should be read as an interpretation of a mechanical scanning procedure. He literally translates the scanner’s continually moving light unit into a real situation – a boat trip. At dusk a boat, equipped with fluorescent tubes, travels parallel to the shore at a distance of about fifty meters (duration of trip and exposure: four minutes). What he produces here is not a normal time exposure but, rather, as in a scan, a compilation of many short exposures. This is most easily observed in the lake’s waves which are in focus.

Ruth Horak and Petra Noll, for the collective

AFTERIMAGES publisher: Fotogalerie Wien,
Wien: 2016,
BILDER Nr. 290


Opening: Monday, 4 April at 7 p.m.
Introduction: Petra Noll
Duration: 5–30 April 2016

sponsored by: BKA Kunst; MA7-Kultur; Cyberlab, Michael Sprachmann/Fine Art Printing and Framing, Vienna; Rahmen Mitter, Vienna
thanks to: Schule Friedl Kubelka für künstlerische Photographie, Vienna; Cultural Endowement of Estonia

Engaging with the past, with its images, evidence, architectures and contemporary witnesses stimulates ‘afterimages’ in the mind. Elapsed time makes another view of what lies in the past, one’s own identity and origins possible. The primary concern in this exhibition are artists’ visualisations of memories that are linked to subjectively experienced places or sites which have been charged by collective emotions. Research into one’s homeland, travelling shots through deserted rooms, archive pictures of personal experiences, places and persons and/or appropriated photographs of historically significant locations are placed in the context of contemporary images, statements and forms of representation such as sound/music, movement or are transformed by re-working them. Alongside working through or depicting personal inner processes, the artists also consider the question of how memories change the perception of reality. Equally, this concerns time which, in memory, articulates as the link between the present and the past as well as the significance and informational value of photographic and filmic images in the process of remembering.

Madis Luik’s installative, multimedia memory work,  Linn: Viljandi / Stadt: Viljandi (2014) is about the city of his childhood, the Estonian city of Viljandi. It connects up three formal levels: photographs of street scenes and architecture, bearing witness to the historical/political change, texts relating to his personal thoughts about his city. The work also includes the documentary video, Elmo, in which he carries on a conversation with Elmo Riig, a well-known Viljandi journalist who has worked for the local newspaper, Sakala, for 18 years photographically documenting the most important local events. During a number of car journeys that make up one of Elmo’s working days they talk, in particular, about his work and the medium of photography. The three-part work, formally constructed from the interweavings of references to texts, photos and videos in newspaper and online articles, was made during a 90-day stay of the artist in Viljandi. All three parts are concerned with issues of the architecture, history and future of the city which has been marked by a great deal of emigration. Although all parts are representative depictions of the city, they achieve a comprehensible narrative level only when they all work together.

Sissa Micheli is showing the video Rue de la Tour – The History of a House in 8 Chapters (2009/2016). Based on the documentation of the Parisian villa in which she grew up, a young woman describes her family. Celia tells of her childhood, four siblings, the failed marriage of her parents and her life without her father who only ever came as far as the doorstep of the house. The slow travelling shot through the rooms chosen by Sissa Micheli visually conveys the mental process of remembering: The quiet flow of images as if from the subconscious is concretised by Celia’s voice and becomes a palpable current of experiences. Images and voice meld into a labyrinth of memories. The video is the third in a trilogy about living spaces that are just short of disintegration. In this series Sissa Micheli examines, in a very poetic and emotional way, how homes can awaken and store memories. Starting from Celia’s account she goes on to talk about general existential issues and feelings such as love, security and loss.

In the video, Revisting past (2015/2016), Michael Michlmayr is concerned with the photographic image as a stimulant for subjective memory. He took negative strips from his archive of black-and-white images from 1981–2000 into his hands for a short time, turned them over, looked at them and photographed this act. These photographs were then edited together into a film, thus creating a picture-in-picture situation that takes the act of looking as its subject. In the background there are the regular clicks of a camera shutter release suggesting authenticity. Even very short visual stimulation is enough to prompt memories of the artist’s own life story, important persons, places and events, of previous art works and social and political events. For the viewer it remains an associative pictorial journey in which unequivocal visibility is denied because of the filmic re-contextualisation, the speed of the images, the superimpositions and turning of the strips as well as the lack of familiarity with the contents. It concerns engaging with seeing/not seeing, the structures of perception and the informational content of photographic images.

Anna Mitterer’s film, Sonate (Hommage à Vinteuil) from 2008 shows a travelling shot through a continuously changing room and thus consistently provokes new relationships to reality. The pictorial language is derived from a piece of music: Mitterer asked Viennese composer Alexander Wagendristel to compose a new piece based on the violin sonata by the fictional composer, Vinteuil, that only exists as a description by Marcel Proust in Swann in Love and is thus equally fictional. In Proust’s work, listening to Vinteuil’s music not only brings Charles Swann to think of his past, unhappy love, Odette, but also leads him to the awareness of an invisible reality. Sonate depicts the infinitesimal moment in which an analogy between the past and the present happens. The act of remembering is reflected in the movement of the camera through the ever-changing room. Above all, it deals with the description of a mental process, the instant of intuitive memory, but also the inner process of how the reception of an art work that makes use of images and sound can be reflected on.

Bärbel Praun is showing the work, this must be the place (2015), a personal research about place, space and perception and an examination of the notion of home. She presents all the pages of a book with black-and-white and colour photographs as a wall work. In the main they deal with landscape subjects e.g. the Swiss mountains, where she lived for a time. The enlarged sections mark her closeness, her involvement with the natural world. They are predominantly very abstract, open images with a symbolic and associative character. The concentration can be felt, the detailed observation – of her own snowflake-catching hands for instance – the very sensitive approach and the artist’s fascination with the beauty of surfaces and structures. Having never lived in the same place for more than a few months at a time over the last few years, she is moved by questions as to the meaning of home and origins, the involvement with memory and identity, the relationship of people to space.
Linda Reif’s Valley Of Hinnom (2015) engages with a place that is steeped in history. Her series of 12 square, black-and-white photographs show the nature of Ge-Hinnom, a deep and narrow valley at the foot of the old city walls of Jerusalem – a place in ‘no man’s land’. The photographs show forms and structures which are more or less indistinct and out of focus. This impression is created by Reif by using out-of-date black-and-white films and a cheaply produced Chinese camera with a plastic lens. Even without the knowledge that this place is well-known for its bloody history – e.g. children were sacrificed to the heathen god, Moloch – one feels in these details an abandoned, deathly still landscape and, because of the black-and-white surface, something mystical, oppressive – one feels death. The landscape functions as a projection surface for history and is also closely tied up with new bloody events in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict/war. Reif’s photographs show just how much more impressive bearing silent witness to historically burdened places can be instead of talking about them.

Benedek Regős considers his photographic work, Genius Loci (2012), to be an attempt to place photographic work processes in the context of evidence, meaning, memory and topography. He examines the phenomenon that documentary photography, by capturing and concentrating on ‘unnoticed’ details, ‘ennobles’ too many objects and situations. In his work he tries to engage with this by photographing apparently unimportant and commonplace locations which are significant only because of a past event. In order to do this he first chooses archival photos which show the site to be where a prominent person was at the time of the shot and which has not changed in the meantime, thus allowing it to be documented. The unchanged nature of the location is thus critical because it has survived in a material sense (like the image) and we can see it as a physical and still accessible link between us and the person in question. Locations can be found with the aid of coordinates, thus becoming ‘inofficial monuments’ of personal memory.

Petra Noll, for the collective

SOLO VII Catharina Freuis publisher: Fotogalerie Wien,
year: 2016,
SOLO VII Catharina Freuis
BILDER Nr. 289

Opening: Monday, 22 February at 7 p.m.
Introduction: Petra Noll
Duration: 23 February until 26 March 2016
Artist talk with Catharina Freuis: Thursday, 17 March at 7 p.m.

sponsored by: BKA Kunst; MA7-Kultur; Cyberlab; Land Vorarlberg – Kultur; Michael Sprachmann – Fine Art Printing and Framing
thanks to: Salon Iris

Since 2010 the FOTOGALERIE WIEN has put on an annual solo exhibition showcasing the work of a young, upcoming artist. This series of exhibitions, SOLO, functions as a platform and springboard for artistswho are at the beginning of their career but who already have an extensive body of work that could be presented to a wider public with advantage. The aim is to achieve a sustainable level of public presence forthe chosen artist and includes helping to organise cooperations and touring shows. For SOLO VII we have invited the Austrian artist Catharina Freuis who lives in Vienna and Bregenz.

Catharina Freuis, born in 1985, studied under Gabriele Rothemann at the University of Applied Arts and graduated with a diploma. For many years she has been represented in numerous exhibitions at home and abroad. Her art work is concerned with issues of space. For this she makes miniature models of public or private rooms – created from a synthesis of many rooms she has viewed. She intervenes in these deserted rooms making various alterations and records the newly-created situations in photographs which usually then take the form of a multi-part series that becomes the sole end product.

In her SOLO show for the FOTOGALERIE WIEN, Freuis is presenting an overview of the various approaches to her room interventions. Here, she is interested in questions about how rooms can be repeatedly transformed or reduced but nevertheless remain either recognisable as what they are or in some cases become unrecognisable. She instigates new perceptions of space and manages to maintain a lively discourse that opens up new avenues of approach. The involvement with photography as a medium located between truth and fiction and her engagement with two- and three dimensions plays a critical role in the work. Freuis’s interventions trigger irritation in various ways. In addition to surreal metamorphoses she has been working with, in particular, perspective and the contrast between dark and light as the two series, Arrangements and Darbietung. In these, she creates instability to situate the rooms – and the viewer – into an intermediary state between limitation and openness, visibility and invisibility, light and dark. More recently, in her three-part cycle, Symphony, where each part consists of a number of photographs, she applies musical principles to her spatial investigations. Freuis works here with extremely reduced means, with spatial constitutions using objects, perspectival experiments and various, diverse strong lighting designs that come close to dissolving space altogether.

Petra Noll