On my work
The conditions in which photographs are produced, viewed, disseminated, and used have drastically changed in recent years. As a global “space-time,” the internet has developed into a realm where itinerant images are constantly being re-contextualized. The majority of photographs taken never find their way onto paper, but are rather viewed on various end devices. Digitally manipulated images are omnipresent and alter our view of the world, while rendering programs threaten to sever the last, rather loose connections between visible reality and its photographic image.
My own artistic work reflects on these changing conditions in a variety of ways. Self-produced photographs and images, professionally produced stock images from online data banks, and dilettantish amateur photographs stand on equal footing in my work. These compositions short-circuit the notion that hyperreal pictures from the commercial field of advertising photography and pure documentation without claims to aestheticization are separate forms of visual communication. The works all exhibit a strong physical presence in different forms, defining real space as the primary domain of experience while combining it with the aesthetic of the hyperreal.
There are, however, purely digital pieces in my oeuvre. An important aspect of my practice is taking into consideration the specific conditions in which my work is received. To that end, I am always using new media and materials. In the past, I have transformed already existing works to adapt them to altered contexts. The tension between virtuality and physical presence is a recurring theme of my artistic practice as is an exploration of the contradiction between digital—and thus mathematical—abstraction and a literally incalculable “real” world that the digital increasingly encroaches upon. In my digital collages, dilettantish renderings of scenarios that break the laws of physics through faulty imitation, often appear in combination with simulations of classical artistic media such as paint and pencil. The mimetic calculation of process-oriented effects like paint splatters and expressive drawing—supposedly once unequivocally bound to the material world—makes them hyperreal. Meanwhile, representational renderings are marked by a coarseness characteristic of a visual culture that has turned away from the subtle nuances of reality. On the level of aesthetics, an idea of perfection in the form of an imitation of the artistic-expressive gesture, whose own authenticity and embeddedness in the spatiotemporal structure of a specific material is questioned by mathematical rendering, thus intersects with the inattentiveness of commercially produced images, which disclose the digital image process with their coarseness and announce a digital present that is evolving by its own logic.
The conditions in which photography and, more generally, visual works are produced today are not the only factors that have changed. The image and role of the artist in Western societies have also undergone substantial transformations. Artistry offers diverse and positive points of reference to both the concepts of individualism and neoliberalism, both of which could be described as constitutive of Western society. A narrative has thus been established which propagates the image of artists pruned into an archetype: for the individualist, the figure of the artist embodies values like the desire for freedom, autonomy, authenticity, and intensity. From a neoliberal perspective, attributes of value creation and personal work organization are of particular interest: the artist’s creativity and the drive toward innovation represent entrepreneurial virtues that are indispensable to the survival of market players in constant competition. As a passionate entrepreneur of himself, he prefers independence and celebrates the absence of social safety nets as a win for freedom. From this perspective, the unclear division between work and leisure, career and private life allows for the total mobilization of all human resources and, in case of an economic collapse, casts the individual into utter self-reliance without the possibility of recourse to an external authority that might take responsibility, whether it be an employer or society as a whole.
The fact that these attributions are simplifications and do not entirely account for the complex reality of many situations does not undermine the efficacy of such narratives. Much of my work in recent years has dealt with these strange, ideological intersections, which I take note of with a mixture of fascination and resistance. This ambivalence also becomes apparent in my groups of works "XXL|XXX, "You're Fired, "I Love My Job", and "Art Business As Usual". They are often charged with something grotesque and overly-affirmative, lending them an abysmal tone.