Sabine Dusend, Alex Grein, Morgaine Schäfer, Berit Schneidereit, Lucia Sotnikova, Anna Vogel
Curated by Katharina Klang
And everything that is lasts three seconds.
One second for before, one for after, one for right in the middle.”
(Peter Licht, Sonnendeck [Sun Deck], 2001)
From 8 February – 9 March 2019, Achenbach Hagemeier presents Moment, its first exhibition in their new gallery space in Berlin. The opening will take place on 7 February from 7 – 10 pm. The show consists of six photographers who were educated at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and work in the Rhineland.
Etymologically, the word moment is derived from momentum, the Latin word for movement, cause, influence. The meaning of the term encompasses both a temporal aspect and a period of time that can not be precisely defined, as well as a dynamic definition—a change in an event caused by movement or the exertion of influence. In image processing, moments describe the brightness values of individual pixels, which can be used to extract particular features.
The works of Sabine Dusend, Alex Grein, Morgaine Schaefer, Berit Schneidereit, Lucia Sotnikova, and Anna Vogel are located within this reference system. Apart from their education at the same university under Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, and Christopher Williams, the artists primarily highlight transformative elements of the medium in their photographs. There is a comparison of analog and digital techniques, a juxtaposition between the simulated and the real; levels are merged, replicas are made, and dissolution is celebrated as an artistic strategy.
A substantial element of Morgaine Schäfer’s examination of her own biography is the idea of photography as the starting point for remembrance. With the aid of family-owned slides, she illustrates how identity and perceptions of history are constructed. In doing so she analyzes and archives outdated techniques and their aesthetics. Schäfer approaches the essence of photography by dissecting and unveiling a supposed duality between an objective item and its private, nostalgically charged reference. She highlights the coexistence of narration, its causality, and the meta-level of the photographic object, which reveals features such as color loss, the presentation sequence in the slide carousel, and their physical tangibility.
In her series Löschen (Deletion), Sabine Dusend relies on the features of a first-generation digital camera and addresses the peculiarities of its deletion process. In a constantly running animation, the camera deletes the digital image by disintegrating it into blue pixels before it disappears completely from the camera memory. While international computer giants are investing in special resolutions that make it impossible to make out individual pixels, for Dusend this visualization of the destructive process is a visual creative element. This is also a reference to the original composition of the image.
In stark contrast to typological object photography, which is associated with the Düsseldorf School and focuses on the subject matter’s essential characteristics, Anna Vogel, on the other hand, has dedicated herself to ambiguity. Photographic templates, often footage from the Internet, are spray painted, defaced, or drawn over with ink, as if by a strongly undulating seismograph. The result is a visual vibrato that tremulously overlays the photograph. The depiction of the object disintegrates in favor of an atmospheric compression of lines. She amalgamates origin myths with futuristic utopias through titles such as Speaker and New cities. The constructs behind these titles, which are open to different levels of interpretation, enable a cosmos beyond any temporality. Through the fusion of photography and painting, Vogel kindles a reconciliation between the two media.
The British photography pioneer H. Fox Talbot described his photographic experiments as photogenic drawings produced by nature. Berit Schneidereit’s Lichthybride (Light Hybrids) are of this tradition. Like Talbot, she is interested in nature. Despite borrowing from romanticism, she focuses primarily on the construction of nature in urban space. Schneidereit creates abstract image spaces based on real photographs. In her series Draperien (Draperies), she evokes privacy nets that divide the image into undulating grids, as if reality were lying in alpine folds. In her photograms, such as in the series Sphere, she oscillates between digital photography and analog production and harnesses the errors that arise during the transfer. The depths thus created, into which no visual information can reach, leave behind silhouette-like voids.
Alex Grein references space, production, and media in her work. She uses photography to approach the essential characteristics of traditional image production and its distribution, as well as the divergence between an object and its representation. The invitation to realize an exhibition in Pszczyna Castle (formerly Pless), known for its collection of miniature portraits, was significant for her series XS. In addition to a thorough examination of the collection there, there was also a touristic visit of the site, just like the ones conducted there several times each day. The impressions that were formed there were bundled together on her mobile phone as a compressed form of moments of existence. Grein arranged glass miniatures on the phone’s screen and rephotographed the resulting shots of the castle’s interiors from the phone. The result of this superimposition is an Alice-esque shift in perception. The image space cheats the real space out of its representation.
Replica is a 1:1 copy of a neon sign photographed by Lucia Sotnikova a few years ago in Volgograd, Russia. She reconstructed a replica of the item based on the photographic template that even bears the same serial number. She also raises the question of whether a photograph can be retransformed into a physical object. Sotnikova’s semiological approach is dedicated to the transmission of real and digital image spaces and investigates whether the object-space relationship is communicable through media. In Epimorpha a golden, knotted necklace snakes around black and white illustrations from an anatomy book. Although the print and the chain are real objects, we perceive the second layer as a digital animation. The layering of image levels, which is a part of common image processing techniques among other things, shows how the overlapping of image information has become symptomatic of our perception.
What all these artists have in common is that they use the moment as an interval of deferral. Despite differences in chemical and technical composition, an experimental approach to parameters of the medium is essential. The participating artists have opened the door wide to the digital era without ignoring the photographic achievements of the past, or insights gained from other media. In this practice lies the chronological stretch – the extension of the sequence.