Foam presents the first solo museum exhibition of Thomas Albdorf (1982, Austria). The artist created a new body of work especially for this exhibition, which is displayed for the very first time in Foam. The works present a surreal account of what looks like a most peculiar Mediterranean holiday. We recognise volcanic landscapes that could have been snapped during a hike, marble sculptures and pottery typically found at the museum or in the souvenir shop, and a pizza dinner that could have been posted on Instagram. Whether the artist ever left his studio to document this place remains unresolved: his initial footage was sourced from google maps, google image search, social media and commercial image banks. The work is shown alongside other recent series General View (2017) and I Know I Will See What I Have Seen Before (2015), that are loosely inspired by a trip to Yosemite National Park and his native Austria, respectively.
Albdorf combines classic photographic genres with contemporary visual techniques. His landscapes and still-lifes are boldly aesthetic, but his use of the photographic medium is highly conceptual. Using both analogue and digital techniques, Albdorf constructs fictional realities from photographs of persistent visual clichés found online. His images of a mountainous landscape, a beach holiday or a flower arrangement look familiar at first glance, but are effectively impossible. Albdorf typically submits his constructions to image recognition software to see if the program could be tricked into identifying his fictions as ‘real’.
By subtly tweaking the most prolific online stereotypes through manual interventions and imaging software, Albdorf deliberately picks apart universally recognisable visual clichés. Despite the aesthetics and humour of Albdorf’s work, decorum and digital trickery are not the end game here. They are but tools with which Albdorf addresses a more fundamental issue: the inherently flawed and self-referential imaging technologies we increasingly rely on as our window onto the world.
recommended Olympus Fellowship
This exhibition was conceived in the context of the recommended Olympus Fellowship, of which Thomas Albdorf is one of the first three recipients. The fellowship enables young image makers to produce and internationally exhibit new work. It is jointly organised by Olympus, Haus der Photographie / Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Fotografie Forum Frankfurt (FFF) and Foam. The Fellows of 2018 are Thomas Albdorf (1982, Austria), Nadja Bournonville (1983, Sweden) and Lilly Lulay (1985, Germany).
About the artist
Thomas Albdorf was born in Linz, Upper Austria in 1982. After working for several years as a Graphic Designer and Art Director, he studied Transmediale Kunst at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, where he graduated in 2013. In 2014, Albdorf was selected as one of British Journal of Photography‘s 'Ones to Watch' and in 2016 he was the recipient of the ING Unseen Talent Award. His work has been exhibited in galleries internationally. Albdorf published two books: General View (Skinnerboox, 2017) and I Know I Will See What I Have Seen Before (Lodret Vandret, 2015) and his work was featured in Foam Magazine #44 ‘On Earth’ (2016). Albdorf lives and works in Vienna, Austria. He is represented by Webber Gallery, London and Deli Gallery, New York.
On June 15th all three winners will be in Foam for an Artist Talk.
This exhibition is made possible with the generous support of Olympus.