WELDE ARTPRICE - PHOTOGRAPHY
22.01. - 15.04.2012
From July 19th until September 4th ZEPHYR – Raum für Fotografie and Welde present an exhibition of this year’s winner of the international WeldeArtprize in the category photography.
Michael Schäfer seduces us by using our visual memory and deliberately misleading it. In a subtle way he changes what we are used to looking at every day. His intelligent creation of images reminds the viewer of familiar press photography for media coverage on which politicians or business leaders are pictured. Curiously enough we seem to remember his images although we have never seen them before.
In the exhibition „Vorbilder“ – role models – Schäfer reflects on the essence of images in two ways. On the one hand, the exhibition title makes reference to the function that is attributed to important people, namely that they are, would like to be or are supposed to be role models. On the other hand these images allude to the artistic or technical process that is much more complex than pure photography. The artist uses already existing press photography as the basis for his new works. He extracts one or more protagonists in the image and fills the created blanks with actors carefully chosen by him. Those actors then assume the roles of industrial leaders, speakers, judges or politicians. This can be considered a role playing on two levels: The role models that were cut out of the picture were already acting and the actors do the same. The awardee analyses these roles both figuratively and on a higher level.
Schäfer plays with different layers of contemplation and truth, which create a peculiar lightness that is blinding and irritating at first sight. The observer starts to wonder who might be the woman in the dark suit for example. Eventually, it might come to mind that the sitter’s gestures stands for our chancellor Angela Merkel, in contrast to the woman’s facial expression though.
In his works Michael Schäfer extracts gestures, physiognomy and posture of society’s role models. They are familiar to us because we are frequently confronted with their images. He analyzes them and brings them back down to earth to point out what they truly are: Interchangeable beings who are defined by their functions in a media-dominated world.