Künstlerhaus Dortmund
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Experimental photography and pictures from the underground
Award and Exhibition

Exhibition period

3 - 25 May 2014

Opening on Friday, 2 May at 20:00h

Spontaneous, playful, shocking. FEX is looking for positions and projects of experimental photography and pictures from the underground. What do these terms mean, in the age of digital image flood and the continuous availability of data? Is the underground submerged, arrived or already consumed by the individual creative delusion?

With this photography award, Kuenstlerhaus Dortmund focuses on the latest developments in these subjects. From 234 submissions our jury has selected 10 works that are now presented at Kuenstlerhaus Dortmund.

Concurrently with the exhibition MAGAZIN SALON and BUCHLABOR will be guestst at the Kuenstlerhaus. Photo books, magazines and rarities will be on display in best lounge atmosphere.

Opening on 02/05/2014

You are cordially invited to the opening on 2 May at 20:00h. The catalogue „Bilder aus dem Untergrund - Zeigen und Verbergen“, printed by Kettler press whom we would like to thank for their engagement, will be presented and from 22:00h we will celebrate and dance with Stuntcat!

Participating artists:

Petra Arnold
Norman Behrendt
Beat Brogle
Fred Hüning
Tobias Kruse
Paula Muhr
Eric Pawlitzky
Torsten Schumann
Sabine Springer
Melanie Vogel

Paula Muhr

In 'Double Flowers' I question the scientific construction of hysteria as a mode of female lunacy which is mirrored in medical photographs and texts of the 19th and early 20th century but actually shows parallels to recent scientific methodology. The title 'Double Flowers' relates to the notion used by Joseph Breuers in his famous studies on hysteria which he published together with Freud in 1895 to display women suffering from hysteria as examples of seducing female abnormality.
The original photographs were taken at the mental hospital of Salpêtrière in Paris between 1870 and 1905 to systematically categorize different manifestations of hysteria. Photographs of „hysterical“ women - intentionally produced in a blurred manner - on which it was thought to identify pathological physiognomies were taken from the medical journal Journal Nouvelle iconographie de la Salpêtrière. The obvious halftone screen shows their origin.
Referring to dutch still life paintings the historic images of female patients have been assembled as collages with a series of objects as plants and animals. In choosing the objects which were added to the medical feamle portaits I strictly followed the coded meaning and imagery of the iconography of still life painting.
Through this intervention the medical photographs which purportedly served to objectively illustrate female anomalies have been destableized in their original function. By introducing the strange elements full of symbolism the primary medical relevance of the anonymous portraits as illustrations of a pathology has been anhihilated and the implied visual codes for the depiction of (ab)normal women has been questioned.

Eric Pawlitzky

Hundred years after the onset of WW I - time for some images. Rather with a camera built in 1895 and with an even older technique for developing the negatives: cyanotopies from the flat films in 13 x 18 cm format. The unique copies - all in blue and white shades - give a watercolour impression.
Eric Pawlitzky has travelled to locations of WW I in Poland and photographed them with historic techniques. He aimed to trace the haptic of an amateur photographer of those times.
But all photographs show landmarks of violence which have actually ceased to be such. Pawlitzky tries to seduce us with polish scenery and to re-link lost memory of a forgotten war in the East of Europe with apparently irrelevant subjects.

Tobias Kruse

From Rothschild Boulevard, one of the most expensive streets in Tel Aviv, it is just a few minutes walk to the old bus terminal. Most inhabitants avoid this place although it is located in the city centre.
The old bus terminal is the kingdom of the oucast and the broken. The ruins are inhabitated by prostitutes from the Ukraine and Germany, hustlers and transvestites from Israel and the Palestinian areas, most of them illegal. What is considered existential elsewhere in Israel loses its significance at the old bus terminal - who you are and where you come from.

Sabine Springer

My work 'burla' deals with the phenomenon of  neo burlesque parties which make a comeback recently. These parties are frequented to live voluptuous and hedonistic experiences. Aside the play with flirt, the presentation and display of the individual physicalness, my focus is on the ambivalence between the longing for attention and maximum pleasure and the possibly existing emptyness, loneliness and maskerade of the protagonists.
The burlesque movement originates from the 18th century. It was often used by the lower classes to overcome social conventions and to re-tell popular tales in a rougher and more obscene manner. In the 19th century the burlesque performance developed more and more to become a mere striptease and ended up in obscurity. Neo burlseque is borrowing the pure glamour from the traditional presnetations to produce a wider and more candid blend. Neo burlesque comprises a broad spectrum of performance styles and doesn't focus exclusively on a male audience but on a variety of social groups of different sexual orientation - women as much as men, homosexuals and pairs.
In my photographic work I investigate the question as to how much these apparently open-minded, liberal and seductive performances where especially women are playing with different identities are actually keeping their promises. Or is it again just about identifying and valuating women primarily through their sexualised body and to make sure that they are available for male pleasure in the end?

Petra Arnold

Man is at the core of the photographic interest of Petra Arnold - and often also his or her nudity. The production process of her works resembles that of an author: Locations are investigated, people are interviewed to develop a plot step by step. From this view point the photogapher is a story teller. But is it true stories that she is telling us?
The subjects with their strange retro-aesthetic are raising questions. They open insights into the milieu of the oldest profession in the world which has always aroused our curiosity as well as that of photographers.
Images that are otherwise hidden find their way into the dark chamber of the photographer. From red-light to red light so to speak. Here, the images are revealed, masked, exposed, coated.
The re-interpretation is not only stimulating the viewers phantasy but also raising new questions. The secret is the secret.

Melanie Vogel

Where the subjective perception is controlled by technolgies, the physical appearance of things is dissolving into a computer-generated aesthetic. This is not only lacking plasticity though but also displaying irritating blurring. Digital technology is based on accurately computed algorithms but can nevertheless produce unpredictable effects. Especially in situations where the artificial and the natural are almost identical Freud's uncanny is created. The internet era suffers of the jitter phenomenon, the unstable digital connection of two servers which leads to a fragemented transmission of data blocks and finally to a flickering of their visual materialisation on the screen.
The imagination that transmission speeds are approaching a virtual synchronicity of data in the digital web is affected in those moments. Something that has been broadcasted from a different location is displayed on our monitor minimally delayed and distorted such that the illusion of a direct physical contact is dissolving. (Vanessa Joan Müller)

Beat Brogle

In a culture that is bristling with images, in which soon every individual and every machine is producing photographs, classical modes of reception are stretched to their limits. The classical methods of hermeneutics which focus on a deep understanding of the single work and its specific context are practitionable only for small data sets. It is impossible to study thousands or even millions of images and grasp their individual meaning. The predominant reaction to this dilemma today is to tend to a quantitative analysis that is mostly based on computer-aided techniques. The focus is thus either the computation of average values or the analysis of patterns of relations and their spatiotemporal dynamics in terms of maps, curves and other ways of data visualisation.
The works of Beat Brogle are taking a different path. Instead of calculating mathematically precise values, the series 'Cluster' investigates selected excerpts from the global image flood, for instance the hits of a search engine for the notion 'serial killer', to identify regions of maximum visual density. To do so, a hundred images are layered on top of each others, so that the individual image disappears and the zones of superposition become visible. Visual patterns emerge which share a most striking property of a visual paradox: They are simultaneously preceisely focused and operating at the edge of perception. Shapes become visible without producing hyperprecision, the typical digital artefact that creates the illusion of detailed knowlegde.
All images of the series have been created through an algorithm. But in a way that the results escape any machine readability. They need the human viewer and his or her paralogical capacities to deal with contradictions. This is maybe the most fascinating feature of this unfathomable series

Fred Hüning

Underground? Bullshit (= M.I.S.T. ***)!
In Germany today, nobody is forced to work in the undergorund anymore. Everthing is permitted. Nothing matters. Everything is available in the www. It is just that someone has to pick up on it!
This is the good about the infinite freedom: Everyone who feels to be called to can - with little money - create art from the internet and publish it there.

*** M.I.S.T.: Unabhängige, freie, kostengünstige Kunstproduktion nach den Regeln von M.I.S.T. –  manifesto of the international beauty troops! Fuck the system!

Torsten Schumann
Wild & Sauerkraut

Longing for confusion,
Hunger for distraction & doner,
Nightly balancing acts,
Emotional concentration,
Lapse and going astray.

Norman Behrendt
burning down the house

„Writer is a big secret. It is the biggest secret I keep from my parents. One is sharing it just with people that one can trust on. It is a big motivation to keep the secret.“ DUKO
With my photographic work 'burning down the house' I want to give an insight into the graffiti sprayer scene of Berlin. My aim ist to open a new angle onto the widely discussed theme. Beyond any stereotypes and with the decision to go without the display of graffiti, I decided to choose the format of a portrait.
I have portrayed approx. 80 Berlin graffiti writers in two different ways: On one hand I asked them for a place at which they could imagine to be portrayed and how much they want to reveal of themselves. On the other hand I portrayed the writers with a polaroid camera in a possibly identifiable way at the subway stations of Berlin. Subsequently I handed the polaroid photo over to them and asked them to censor it in a way that it could afterwards be published. The created portraits demonstrate the tension between visibility and anonymity, a possible identification by third parties or even the police.
At the core of my intention is to give insight, to potentially confront the viewer with his or her own sons and daughters, friends and colleagues – a generation that with its actions and following the title 'burning down the house' frees itself from the former generation, from conventions and traditions and thus eventually causes discomfort and outrage.

Concept and Organisation: Hannes Woidich
images of works ©: the artists
installation views ©:
photos opening ©: Jens Sundheim

kindly suported by:

Cultural Department of the City of Dortmund, Sparkasse Dortmund, DEW 21, Verlag Kettler, HSL Bildproduktion Düsseldorf, FAIRsicherungsladen Dortmund, MeinFernbus.de