• Alexander Rischer & Stefanie Becker

Alexander Rischer, STEFANIE BECKER


Viiskulma 14.11.-25.11.2007

Stefanie Becker offers work that should be read associatively. In view of the revolution in communications begun after 1900 with film, photography and widespread print publication of illustrated newspapers and color postcards, Aby Warburg, a Hamburg art historian of Jewish descent, developed in the 1920s a new methodology of comparative imagery which gave visual form to a meta-cultural approach. Warburg juxtaposed photographs of cultural artifacts from varios moments in human history, including materials from the popular media of his time, in order to reproduce behaviours, gestures and codes of honor and pathos which are cataloued throughout art history and to give them a contemporary social context and meaning.

The artist presents her photographs which appear in varous formats, as a single artwork that juxtaposes radically contrasting approaches and material qualitites in pairs or groups.

A photograph of a patterned prayer mat on the steps of Old Jerusalem’s Moslem quarter is shown next to a crushed watermelon photographed shortly after the traditional Jewish Sabbath meal, and placed on a newly paved road. Red dominates both photographs, and both evoke the contrast of hard vs. soft, planned vs. happenstance, decorative vs. latticed, light vs. shadow. The surprise results from the way the formal domain is woven into the content: the signs and traces of religios behaviours that interact with each other dramatically on a daily basis in Jerusalem undergo a visual confrontation. Both the individual photographs highlighted within the series and the comparative sets offer further such encounters which the viewer can develop and attribute to political, religious or other contemporary issues according to his or her knowledge, interests and associative tendencies.

Claus Mewes on „Fragments“, a series by Stefanie Becker photographed in Jerusalem 2005

Alexander Rischer

Using black-and-white photography, Alexander Rischer uncovers historical threads that lie beyond the mainstream; his austere images contain histories that bear witness to distant ways of life. This exhibition, which covers several years, presents sacred historical monuments and small-scale, often provincial architecture. The function and meaning of these constructions -round towers, dovecotes, exterior pulpits, „soul windows“, and misery crosses-have largely been forgotten today; they project themselves into the secular present like spectral, silent witnesses. As such, Rischer’s photographs often trigger thoughts about the nature of time and the transience of beliefs . Yet Rischer is not didactic: Although the photographs are impregnated , as it were, with his extensive knowledge of the customs, rites and curiosities of past centuries, he does not use the images to explain anything. Instead he shows us something ruled by its own temporality. The construction of this distance is the source of the work’s rigor and quality-and even a bit of humor. One observes how the portrayed objects seem to slip into absentia; history creates gaps and threatens us with forgetfulness. Hegel described this by means of the beautiful image of the „fury of disappearance“; here, Rischer is one of its documentarists.

Jens Asthoff in ARTFORUM
artforum.com/CRITICS’ PICKS

further informations:

The exhibition is a part of the HUUTO TUOTANTOA (‘Huuto productions’) series, realized through the contacts of Galleria Huuto and its member artists, with an aim to bring interesting and thought-provoking exhibitions and other projects by international artists to Helsinki.