┐ an unwelcome guest └

© REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis, A masked protester holds a metal bar during a violent demonstration in Syntagma square in central Athens

OPEN LETTER TO ANGELA MERKEL

Dear chancellor Merkel,

We start by saying we address you only as chancellor of Germany. We did not vote for you and do not acknowledge the existence of a chancellor of Europe. We, the subscribers of this open letter, write to you as free citizens. Citizens of a country you wish to visit on the next 12th of November, as well as citizens in solidarity with all the countries attacked by austerity. Due to the character of the announced visit, those who have to struggle daily with the dire economic and social situation in Portugal, must stress that you are not welcome. You should be considered persona non grata in Portuguese territory because you clearly come to interfere with the Portuguese State’s decisions without being democratically mandated by those who live here.

Even so, because our government has of late ceased to obide with the laws of this country and its Republican constitution, we address this letter directly to you. The presence of many great businessman in your entourage is an outrage. Under the guise of “foreign investment”, you will bring a group of people that will come to plunder the ruins in which your policies have left the Portuguese economy, as well as those of Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain. Your delegation is composed not only by those who have coerced the Portuguese state, with the connivance of its government, to privatize it’s property and most valuable assets, but also by the potential beneficiaries of those properties and assets, bought today at fire-sale prices.

This letter cannot and should not be seen as any sort of nationalist of chauvinist vindication – it’s a direct address to you as the chief promoter of the Neoliberal doctrine which is ruining Europe. We do not address the German people who have all the democratic legitimacy to elect whomever they want for their representative offices. However, in this country where we live, your name was never on any ballot. We did not elect you. As such, we do not recognize you the right to represent us and even less the right to make political decisions on our behalf.

And we are not alone. On the 14th of November, two days after your announced visit, we will rise with several others in a general strike which will include many European countries. It will be a strike against the governments which have betrayed and still betray the trust the citizens deposited on them, a strike against the austerity applied by them. But do not delude yourself, chancellor. It will be a strike against the austerity imposed by the troika and against all those which intend to transform it into an authoritarian regime. It will be a strike against you, Mme. Merkel. And if we salute the people of Greece, Spain, Italy Cyprus and Malta, we also salute the German people who suffer with us. We know very well that the Wirtschaftswunder, Germany’s “economical miracle”, was built on the basis of successive debt pardons by its main creditors. We know that the supposed current German economic thrust is built on a brutal crackdown on wages for over 10 years and the massive promotion of precarious labour, temporary and low-wage work that afflicts a great part of the German people. That also shows the perspective you, chancellor Merkel, have for your own country.

It’s very likely that you won’t reply. And it’s probable that the Portuguese government, subservient, weak and feeble, will receive you with flowers and applause. But the truth, chancellor, is that the majority of the Portuguese population blatantly disapproves of this government and the way in which it is destroying the country, supported by the troika and yourself. Even if you choose a secret route and a private airport to get away from the demonstrations against your visit, you have to know that they will occur all around the country. And they will be protests against you and what you represent. Your entourage may try and ignore us. The European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank may try to ignore the streets. But we are more and more, Mme. Merkel. Here and in all countries. Our protests will be stronger and stronger. We become more aware of reality every day. The stories you have all told us were always awkward and now we know they were full-out lies.

We have awaken, Mme. Merkel. You are an unwelcome guest.

┐ Alexander Gehring └

@ Alexander Gehring, Untitled, from the series Messages from the Darkroom

@ Alexander Gehring, Untitled, from the series Messages from the Darkroom

The photographic series Messages from the Darkroom investigates the connection between photography and the occult. Based on historical photographs published by early twentieth century parapsychologist Dr. Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, Messages from the Darkroom enquires the ability of the photographic camera to capture magical or paranormal phenomena.
Schrenck-Notzing, like many other scientists in this era of technical revolutions, when modern media began to make their first steps, was interested in occult phenomenona like mediumship and the physical exposures human trance-mediums were said to be able to produce. By using a photographic camera he tried to give a solid proof for the occult phenomenons to be part of reality. He believed in the objectivity of the photographic image and its technique which allowed him to exclude any doubt or suspicion of human fraud. What we see as the result of his photographic experiments are rather obscure than illuminative images which are unique in the history of photography.
Messages from the Darkroom uses this ambivalent imagery of Schrenck-Notzing‘s historical photographs to ask if photography is sensitive enough to record supernatural phenomena. Between the desire to expose the supernatural and the acceptance of the technical impossibility to capture it, the work opens up a space of eventualities where analogies between the photographic technique and occult practices get visible: The darkroom turns into the séance-room just like the photocamera becomes the medium in trance. Eventually, the photographic technique, generally understood as a means of objectively capturing reality, is shown in a different light: it seems that during the photographic séance the camera reveals its own magical aura.


The work is divided into three parts: One reproduction of an image taken from Schrenck Notzings’s book ‘Materialisations-phänomene’ from 1914, a series of pictures from the darkroom and a series of pictures from caves. Together they represent three ‘dark rooms’, rooms hidden from the public eye, where people try to face a transcendental experience.

More of Alexander’s work here

┐ Tobias Kruse └

© Tobias Kruse, Untitled, from the series The Parting, 2007

Graduation trip of the Carl-von-Ossietzky-Gymnasium examination year 2007, at Lake Balaton, Hungary

“Alcoholism extends the impersonal and transcendental event of the ‘crack up’ across a life by way of a caesura of time. Alcoholism, Deleuze writes, ‘hardens’ the present (Deleuze 1990: 158). In Fitzgerald, alcoholism’s temporality is that of the past perfect – I have-acted, I have-broken, I have-touched – where the present auxiliary is the hardened present and the past participle the volatile, churning real it extends across and holds in its entirety: a volcano held in porcelain. Still, in alcoholism, the ‘I have-drunk’ collapses the near past of the last drink with the distant past of sobriety (Deleuze 1990: 159). Hardness becomes indifference and the present loses its hold on the past without ceasing to enclose it; lava turns to dust. Further, each drink is always already a drink I have-drunk, faded into the past at the same time that the past is washed out by the indistinction of its points. For the drink to break through the present is for the undifferentiated past to break upon the present and wash over it. The crack becomes a wound as the drunk meets her alcoholism and becomes an alcoholic, and no longer a sober companion to another self who has drunk. The self collapses into a single ego, no longer split into the actual event and a double that might ‘counter-actualise’ it.”

in From the Archive, Introduction to Günther Anders’ ‘The Pathology of Freedom’, by Katharine Wolfe

┐ Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs └

@ Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, untitled, from the seriesLight of other days, 2009

DIRECT POSITIVE PHOTOGRAPHS, 20 X 24 CM EACH

@ Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, untitled, from the seriesLight of other days, 2009

DIRECT POSITIVE PHOTOGRAPHS, 20 X 24 CM EACH

In “End of an Era” Onorato and Krebs continue to explore the nature of perception, a theme that also distinguishes their most well-known photographic series to date, “The Great Unreal,” produced during their travels through the US. Their illusionistic visual universes and installations thrive on the interplay between the visible and invisible nature of illusion and the encounter of reality and the imagination.
The exhibited photographs and installations reflect the ambivalent role of photography on one hand as a documentary medium used to depict reality and on the other hand as an artistic instrument for the creation of new, dream-like imaginary worlds. The exhibition title “End of an Era” refers to the value of analogue image production, the end of which is constantly being prophesied, particularly since the demise of the pioneer of photography, Kodak.(…)

from here

Their work, very much worth exploring, can be found here

┐ Steffi Klenz └

© Steffi Klenz, Untitled, from the series Hewitt’s Heap, 2011

© Steffi Klenz, Untitled, from the series Hewitt’s Heap, 2011

“The first thing we ought to note here is that the German word for the uncanny is ‘unheimlich’. As Freud famously pointed out a century ago, ‘heimlich’, which literally translates as ‘homely’, means two separate things; both familiar and safe, but also secret and concealed. Freud suggests that the logic of the word heimlich develops along its own path until it begins to coincide with unheimlich, allowing him to argue for a proper psychological description of the uncanny as the trauma of the unfamiliar appearing from within the familiar. In Freud’s case this leads him onto the discussion of doubles, phantoms and severed body parts, but it retains the architectural hints of its etymology.

So we might now begin by reading Klenz’ images as visual analogies of this sensation – at the simplest level the forms of the image are easily recognisable and yet in their negative light they are estranged, twisted, unfamiliar. Let us consider the setting, a domestic interior: here the metaphors abound. We already note that the uncanny is related to the home, but of course both uncanniness and the home are the conditions of and for haunting, and Klenz’ images play substantially with this language of ghostliness.(…)

The notion of ghostliness should be treated a little more seriously, however. Without having to take ghosts literally one has to accept that the idea comes from somewhere; perhaps like deities, the notion of ghostliness arises automatically to fill an absence in being. The inescapable tension between the veridical finitude of being and its phenomenological endlessness allows for a condition whereby when we make marks we transfer a fragment of our being into the realm of the dead. The folk notion that photograph steals the soul is a naïve way of describing the genuinely uncanny effect of having a likeness frozen onto material in time, a strange hint of our own paradoxical ghostliness.”

excerpt from an article by Douglas Murphy about Steffi’s other series: Caster, but that I think accompanies this one just as well. Full article in Photomonitor

Steffi’s www home here

┐ Michael Wolf └

© Michael Wolf , Corner Houses Hong Kong, 2010 (print screen)

© Michael Wolf , Tokio compression, 2010 (print screen)

© Michael Wolf , The Transparent City, 2008 (print screen)

I’ve tried to pull back and not make a post each time I see someone’s work I find relevant but don’t personally like, but this is an exception (as there have been others).
Michael Wolf is definitely a talented photographer and I’m sure a very energetic person, since the rythm of his production is overwhelming.
Having said this, is my opinion that he works in series, not in projects, and for that I make him an example of one of the issues in the definition of contemporary photography vs art. Not that one or the other is more or less relevant, (even if we have our own tastes) but we should learn to call things by its names, and not be afraid to invent new concepts if there isn’t one to describe the object of our concern.
As far as I can understand it, a project is a research-type approach to a subject, in which the formal aspects are not determining the content of the imagery, even if is commonly cataloged as a series; a series is a much more superficial approach to a subject where repetition is often used to tight things together and make a point.
I’ll be using these words more thoughtfully in this blog from now on…

More of Michael’s work here

┐ Cathleen Naundorf └

© Cathleen Naundorf, Untitled – Dior, artist’s workshop – Cité Jandelle, Paris

© Cathleen Naundorf, Mimi San – Dior, artist’s workshop – Cité Jandelle, Paris

“When I decided to photograph 4×5 inches, and even with Polaroid, people asked, ’Are you crazy? Why don ’t you do digital, it takes much less time?’ But, it needs to take time. When you take the time to discover your subject it’s like you’re really meeting. And as you see with my pictures, there is some- thing special inside.”

source: VS interview

Another gift to the fashion world: Cathleen’s view of the world

┐ Jan von Holleben └

© Jan von Holleben, Untitled #14, from the series Mystery of Monsters, 2009

© Jan von Holleben, Untitled #15, from the series Mystery of Monsters, 2009

“Like amateur pornography, the pleasure of von Holleben’s work derives from its honesty. “People appreciate I’m not over-constructing an image: changing it in Photoshop 25 times, and their sense of reality alongside. I’m mucking around, but I’m not trying to cheat anyone (…) Play shapes von Holleben’s worldview – he sees it as a way to explore selfhood, relationships and ultimately reality. “Alongside Homo sapiens exists Homo ludens – the person who understands himself and the world through play,” says von Holleben. It’s an old idea, he points out. Alongside the Dutch theorist who coined the phrase, references to the primacy of play can be found from Aristotle to the Bible. The perspective fits snugly with von Holleben’s own past, too. He grew up in a commune, and spent innumerable afternoons building treehouses with friends. Seen in this context, his images are simply open games. Adopting the furniture and locations of everyday life lends them an immediate surrealism, and their deliberate crudeness makes the game explicit. Von Holleben’s viewers must invest themselves to consummate the image, and the outcome is magical realism. “The viewer has the chance to understand what I’ve done, but I do it in such a way that they don’t want to understand it,” he says. “No one wants to see a kid lying on the floor, they want to see a kid flying. They want to keep this shared vision alive.” By exploring the fantastical potential of everyday life, the viewer discovers a mode of perception that reclaims life from the banality of fact.”

Source: Creative review

von Holleben’s place here

┐ Katharina Bosse └

© Katharina Bosse, Untitled, from the series A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mother, 2004-2009

© Katharina Bosse, Untitled, from the series A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mother, 2004-2009

“After living in New York for six years, I moved to Germany and became pregnant. Nothing in my career as a photographer and artist had prepared me for this experience. Not only were the physical demands of carrying and caring for the babies demanding. It was a forced change from everything I had learned so far: individuality, ambition and workaholism. I felt like a teenager again, changing rapidly into a new person, not knowing the outcome. I started to look for articles, and images about this process and found lots of advice, but very few actual descriptions of the unsettling shift in identity I was experiencing. And so, over the course of four years, I brought to life two children and eight photographs. I felt compelled to undress (or dress up) and create images of motherhood I had not seen before. I gave up control of the shutter release, and got in front of the camera to extract a knowledge only my body could tell.”

More of Katharina’s work here

║ Julian Röder ║

© Julian Röder, Protests agains G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy, 2001

© Julian Röder, Protests agains G-8 summit in Glenagles, Scotland, 2005

© Julian Röder, Protests agains G-8 summit in Kokkaido, Japan, 2008

(…)

“No, these are not battle scenes in the art historical sense. Even if Julian Röder does have a strong understanding of pouring the confrontational situations of crowds – their clustering and the bursting apart – into striking pictures. The old masters Altdorfer and Uccello come easefully to mind. What Röder shows is not the compacting of an historical occurrence; it is the immediate present. However, it is precisely because he helps himself to art – or more generally speaking, historical image – motifs that these photographs possess deeper intensity and permanence than a fifteen second take from the news. Because pictures are always pictures about pictures. We have them in our memory – more or less consciously – and incessantly align them with that which purports to be reality.
What fascinates us about this process of alignment, however, is not the possibility of an agreement, but the addition. Eventually, every authentic picture adds to our remembered image, and this gap can be captivating. I know that the term authenticity has become discredited, though I cannot let it go. Even if the altogether authentic picture remains forever fictitious, there are different strategies of harmonization. Those of Julian Röder exist, foremost, in the immediate pathos and in the attention to detail that is often touching and strange. Like those masked in Genoa, helplessly studying the city map, or the picture of the pair in Heiligendamm, who have wrapped themselves in a plastic tarp to sleep in a field, aptly setting their wet socks out to dry on a stack of euro-pallets. Drama and satire: Röder shows both, as in Greek tragedy.”

by Matthias Flügge

More of Julian’s work here

║ Thorsten Brinkmann ║

© Thorsten Brinkmann, Streefkerk, Berta von Schwarzflug, from the series Portraits of a Serialsammler, 2010

© Thorsten Brinkmann, Streefkerk, Venus del Whitespitz, from the series Portraits of a Serialsammler, 2008

“Enter Thorsten Brinkmann. Here is the confident hand of someone who knows the joke, knows just how to tell it, and, best of all, knows that there is something more to the story than just an easy laugh. Added to the mix is the fact that all the jokes are at his expense since every photo is a self-portrait. Thorsten Brinkmann creates environments. He goes out to the junkyards, flea markets, and dumpsters of the world to find the materials for his art. With those materials he builds walls, floors, objets, and furniture; the full contents of a scavenger’s apartment. Of course every apartment needs something on the walls, so he hangs pictures of himself covered with more of the junk trouvé. Of course, the backdrops for the photos are created environments as well. A mirror in a mirror in a…..

(…)

Brinkmann’s photos poke fun at himself and at these traditions. Yet the joke comes right back at us since he is upholstered behind what we have thrown away. The garish colors, cheap patterns, and texture of “real” vinyl contradict the luxe and private world that portraits like this usually reveal. Far from the castles and mansions that are haunted by portraits posed just like this, Brinkmann shows us ourselves as well. His wit is on display when he obscures himself behind the cast-off material of a consumer society. But behind the wit lies a dead on comment about dignity and individualism. The wit is just the camouflaged skin of a predator poised to go for the kill.”

essay by Evan Mirapaul

More of Thorsten’s work can be seen here

║ Hiroko Inoue ║

© Hiroko Inoue, Untitled, from the series Inside-Out, 2005

© Iroko Inoue, Untitled, from the series Inside-Out, 2005

“In her photo series Inside-Out, the Japanese artist Hiroko Inoue explores psychical constellations that go beyond the normative process of socially preformulated reality on account of various life experiences. Windows of patients’ rooms in the psychiatric ward of the Otto Wagner Hospital in Vienna show both the view outward into the open and the interior of a territorially and mentally delimited living environment. The connotation of the open out-of-doors as a space inviting freedom is counteracted by the bars on the window through which the beholder gazes. From a historical perspective, the Otto Wagner Hospital stands for a model institution which housed patients in single rooms in the Jugendstil pavilions, but also for the ‚Orthopedagogic Clinic of the City of Vienna – Am Spiegelgrund‘, where from 1940 to 1945 children with psychological irregularities were murdered. Today several psychiatric wards are operated by the Baumgartner Höhe Social-Medical Center. With regard to care for the mentally ill, Inoue’s work raises the question of appropriate models for housing. While the patients and their family members continue to enjoy the salutogenic benefi ts of the Otto Wagner Hospital’s tranquility and aesthetically sophisticated surroundings, the developments of the last three decades in the fi eld of social psychiatry raise critical questions with regard to the spatial concentration of treatment and care. In addition to the development of community-ortiented and localized inpatient facilities, there have been tendencies to increase the possibilities of ambulatory and semi-inpatient care.”

source: psychic realities

║ Vanja Vukovic ║

© Vanja Vukovic, Untitled #4, from the series The self is a room, 2008

© Vanja Vukovic, Untitled #3, from the series The self is a room, 2008

“The self is a room. It contains the concurrent as well as the non-concurrent, the individual and the social, the orderly, the archived, the unsorted, and the repressed. The only thing it does not contain—and which first strikes the eye—is emptiness.

Never has there been so much individuality, as the preserver of the circumstances may observe. But self-realisation has long ago turned into dictates of “Pursuit of happiness“, under the load of which the individual shatters. The room becomes a monad and life a solitary confinement. Dilapidated, the self sways to therapy. Changes mean more than new tapestry on the wall.

The individual psychological process also reflects itself in social interaction. In the historical room, modern collective ideas have lost their bonding effect and creativity. The individual becomes somewhat petrified. Yearnings and desires for communal safety and caring bring outdated religious avowals to the surface. The enlightenment, which was out to found a rational space together with the world’s disenchantment, turns just into its opposite. The individual is blind in her quest for the comfort of the group. The light of cognition begins to darken.

All is that isn’t? Somewhere doors and views open. The rooms so familiar are under custody; the distance glistens in shades of blue.”

Artist statement

More of Vanja’s work here