Stefanie Schneider: A German view of the American West

Jul 16, 2019 7:19PM

Published in Barnebys May 2017

Stefanie Schneider, Rodeo Grounds (Till Death do us Part), 2010 >>

The works of Stefanie Schneider evoke Ed Ruscha's obsession with the American experience, the richness of Georgia O'Keefe's deserts and the loneliness of Edward Hopper's haunting paintings. So how exactly did this German photographer become one of the most important artists of the American narrative of the 20th and 21st century?

Born in Germany in 1968, photographer Schneider divides her time between Berlin and Los Angeles. Her process begins in the American West, in locations such as the planes and deserts of Southern California, where she photographs her subjects. In Berlin, Schneider develops and enlarges her works.

Stefanie Schneider, 'Ryan Gosling I (Stay)

Stefanie Schneider, Bring Ya to the Brink (Cyndi Lauper)

What is most striking about Schneider's images is the colour which evokes the appearance of expired Polaroid film. Her role in preserving the use of Polaroid is one aspect of her work that has gained great respect from her contemporaries and the critics, as her work came about during a time when the Polaroid, a symbol of American photography, was on the road to extinction.

Stefanie Schneider, Radha doing her Nails (29 Palms, CA)

Stefanie Schneider (1968-) - 'Untitled' (Oilfields) Analog C-Print,

Stefanie Schneider, Daisy and Austen in front of Trailer (Till Death do Us Part)

This theme of preservation and deterioration is a core part of Schneider's oeuvre. In an interview in October 2014 with Artnet, the artist explained how her own experiences of pain and loss inspire her. ''My work resembles my life: Love, lost and unrequited, leaves its mark in our lives as a senseless pain that has no place in the present.''

Stefanie Schneider, Haley (Haley and the Birds)

''The ex-lover experiences the residues of love as an amputee experiences the sensation of a ghost limb.'' - Stefanie Schneider

Schneider's subjects are often featured in apocalyptic settings: desert planes, trailer parks, oilfields, run-down motels and empty beaches, alone, or if not, not connected with one another. ''It is the tangible experience of ''absence'' that has inspired my work,'' explained Scheider.

Stefanie Schneider, Untitled 01 (Saigon)

Stefanie Schneider, Untitled (Beachshoot)

This sense of absence runs deep through Schneider's work, the fact she even uses expired film means there is a sense of the unknown. Long before Valencia, Mayfair and Amaro, or any other Instagram filters, Schneider was creating this otherworldliness the image sharing network tries to create.