Objets Trouvés

Hannes Böck, Kerstin von Gabain, Guido Kucsko


With the words ‚your problem is the lens’ Pablo Picasso once dismissed an artistically ambitious photographer — long before the medium of photography was given equal ranking to painting. Despite, or perhaps because of the ‘objectivity’ of the apparatus, photography has opened not only completely new, but also extremely divergent perspectives on what appears to be reality. This seemingly objective medium has finally unmasked reality as a construct. Rather than existing per se, the world is made up of the sum of subjective experiences and images that individuals have.
The exhibition Objets Trouvés shows three different photographic approaches to the reality of historical art and utilitarian objects from the collection as well as the Kunsthandel Reinhold Hofstätter. Within the context of an installation the artists have received Carte Blanche. A photographic examination of objects and the power of display is the common ground of their work — in the exhibition itself they also share a restriction to black and white.

Hannes Böck uses exclusively analog photography, without superficial effects. Instead of aiming at a personal style, a recognizable visual language, he looks for a form appropriate for each of his investigations into the field of visual culture. Topic is the representations of history and culture, which result from the production and mediation of images. He has limited himself thematically to the inaccessible deposits of the Kunsthandel — an impressive concentration of artifacts dating back several centuries. Gradually accumulated and stowed randomly, there can be found furniture and commodity, decor and art, unfinished objects as well as fragments. In itself a metaphor for time, transience and history! Thru sparse rays of daylight or the focus of a searching lamp Böck discovers accidentally generated, grotesquely surreal constellations of interlaced objects. In his documentary approach the artist responds to such strong motives and the atmospheric density of the ‘haunted’ storehouse by withdrawing himself. His photographic report from the depths of deposit conducts a virtual dialogue with two empty, functional glass cabinets of the 30's, intended for the presentation of imaginary gems.

The exhibits of Kerstin von Gabain, also working analog, follow another classic strategy of fine art photography, which is typology. Using the example of six versions of the type chair and cabinet, she refers to the differences within the homogeneous. She aims less at the suggestion of the seemingly endless variety of functional and stylistic diversity of such objects, but rather at their ‘family resemblance’ as put forward by Ludwig Wittgenstein, who layered glass negatives of photographs of his siblings to make the common threads of all individuals in a group visible. The photographs of different backrests of the classic Thonet chair as well as the upper portions of Baroque cabinets can also be read as faces. Plaster casts of cabinet feet support the game with figurative associations accelerated by the artist and at the same time undermine the formal rigor of both photo series. They also produce a spatial relationship between the images of the objects and their real corporeality. Both the casting and the photograph are technical processes in which, finally, a positive imprint originates from a negative.

Guido Kucsko has developed a highly independent and distinctive body of work in recent years: Technically, to a certain extent also stylistically, it is based on the perfect combination of several factors: shooting with a compact camera, the digital post-processing, the print out by a 12-colour pigment printer on Hahnemühle-paper. The purely aesthetic result — subtle tonal and colour values as well as precious, seemingly immaterial surfaces — is striking. In contrast, there is a substantial examination of complex topics and content. Within the work process photography usually plays the role of the impulse generator, triggering associative chains and new trains of thought. Very rarely the original picture is directly the result. The final images, usually there are series of images or installed picture stories, emerge only after Kucsko entered into an intensive dialogue with the sculptural objects: A Diana with pooch from the mid-17th century gives him the occasion both to think about ideals of beauty and ideals in art, or as guidance and construction of the gaze in the relationship between image and viewer. The Baroque Janus-faced bust Suffering and Dismay inspired the artist to a repeated metaphoric and dramatic exaggeration of the topic within a spatial network of relationships whose centre is the sculpture.

Edelbert Köb