191112: Kunst Haus Wien - Photo Booth Art – The aesthetics behind the curtain: from the Surrealists to Warhol and Rainer

Kunsthaus Wien Photo Booth Art – The aesthetics behind the curtain: from the Surrealists to Warhol and Rainer 10.10.2012 – 13.01.2013 Snapshots in strips By Roland Schöny It's as it often is. One gets irritated by the kitschy entrance situation with its rough floor, which, according to Friedensreich Hundertwasser's earnest proclamation, shall contribute to the "retrieval of human dignity". But then a carefully presented and interesting exhibition awaits one on the second floor. Core theme: contemporary photography. And it's the same this time. With aesthetic concepts around the photo booths. The subtitle with the indication " .... to Warhol and Rainer" is, however, misleading because the historic curve does not end with these classics by any means, but leads into the present. The famous photos by Arnulf Rainer with grimacing portraits taken in photo booths stem from the year 1969. Andy Warhol, on the other hand, had already discovered the photo booth as a portrait studio in 1963. Much later – in 1972 in Leipzig – Jan Wenzel was only just born. His work is so remarkable because Wenzel made the photo booth to his central medium. He uses the given format to design assembled conceptual shots or even spatial photos; by no means all “behind the curtain”. Their fixed focus as well as the framing characterizes his works. A change of perspective is brought about through the small movie room with samples of clippings from Jean-Luc Godard’s “Masculin feminine” (1966) or Wim Wenders’ “Alice in the cities” (1974). Long sequences from “The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie” by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (2001) are also shown – in which the main character meets a collector of photo booth passport photos. Another main theme revolves around identity and self-staging – this plainly being the main motif for Cindy Sherman to work with an automated photo machine. “Untitled” (Lucille Ball” (1975) leads to the picture series “Untitled Film Stills”. The automated photos are characterized by a soft focus and help imitate the aesthetics that are well known in pictures of stars and starlets since the1930s. The beginnings of automated photos go back much further. In 1928 the first “Photomatons” were installed in Paris. How quickly the surrealists discovered their potential as photo machines becomes obvious in the last edition of the magazine “La Révolution Surréaliste” in December 1929, in which 16 automated self-portraits by protagonists of the movement including André Breton, Luis Buñuel, Max Ernst or Salvador Dalí, are all published as a photomontage. The informative texts in the rooms highlight, above all, the historic and stylistic aspects. Due to the fact that the exhibition is a project by the Musée d’Élysée Lausanne, the Kunsthaus permitted itself the luxury of not producing its own catalogue. But there is no explanation as to why no form of a theoretical mediation in German exists at all. From the production of a pocket guide to the printing of an exhibition journal, a plethora of possibilities would have been presented if at least one single theoretical contribution had been offered. The show, rich in individual topics, whose diversity goes far beyond the idea of stereotype strip pictures, should have earned endorsement through the generally common standard of an adequate publication. Kunsthaus Wien 1030 Vienna, Untere Weißgerberstraße 13 Tel: +43 1 712 04 95 0 Fax: +43 1 712 04 94 email: office@kunsthauswien.com http://www.kunsthauswien.com

Kunsthaus Wien xx
1030 Wien, Untere Weißgerberstr 13
Tel: +43 / 1 / 712 04 95, Fax: +43 / 1 / 712 04 96
Email: office@kunsthauswien.at
Öffnungszeiten: täglich von 10 bis 19 Uhr

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