Galerie Conradi is pleased to introduce three young artists, Andrzej Steinbach, Yann-Vari Schubert and Philip Gaisser at the occasion of Art Cologne 2017. The selection of works comprises photographs, a manipulated printed image and a computer-generated chalk drawing. Taking different approaches, the works reflect on the question how images and codes are inscribed and read –related to the social, political and economic conditions of contemporary culture.
Philip Gaisser’s series Graphene (2016) consists of 97 small photos of one and the same leaf (presented in a display case). It is related to Leaf - Palm - Hand (2016), a large-scale photography of a concrete sculpture found in urban space. This massive representation of a giant hand holding a small leaf would actually approve the blessing of agriculture in its primary function, displayed in public. Its expressive load, physical dominance and imperative appearance contrast the very unimposing natural leaf, a disregarded, dropped object. Yet, the camera takes a multitude of pictures in order to document this thing in its singularity from every angle, proceeding with precision and elaborateness. This stereoscopic concept of perceiving the visible object, reading it by means of a spatial process, is what defines the sculptural approach of this conceptual photography –just as the act of presentation as such gets allowed to evolve. Landscapes or motifs associable with landscape are repeatedly found in Gaisser’s work. That is a characteristic of his photography: for all their documentary-like objectivity, there is always a directed ambivalence.
The pictured objects in Andrzej Steinbach’s series Ordinary Stones (2016) could be anything –subjects of geological studies, weapons, artifacts or bricks –their reading depends on the other images that are assigned to the series: clothing that could be recognized as a uniform and disguise of black bloc militancy, invoking an aggressive dress code. This is precisely what stands in the greatest possible contradiction to their exposed presentation, such that the observer immediately ascribes to the objects a story that could fill in their semantic under-determination. However, any possible reading bounces off them. Ordinary Stones investi-gates the definitional framework of photographic portraits –either human figures are visible or discarded articles of clothing point to their absence. Like the stones, the ‘figures’ show themselves without revealing anything. They take up various poses but never fill them out. Steinbach’s formation of image-related “I” production of the ‘portrait’ ultimately does not allow for any conclusions to be drawn about the singularity of the subject behind it. The stones and figures are not only photographed in the same space, they also occur within the same semantic space. For not only does the second part of the series decode the first, but the first also decodes the second.
Considering representation as variable, the objects and figures in the photographs of Gaisser and Steinbach appear as a negotiable point of reference in a visual system of cultural deter-minations and perspectives. This thinking leads to Yann-Vari Schubert’s work Brautigan’s Dream (2015). It refers to the poem All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace written by Richard Brautigan in 1967. The artists’ watery hand written quotation on the surface of the print reads as a gesture disturbing the perfect pattern of the computer generated and appealing droplet image. The memorial to a Californian icon of Subculture and his praised union of men and technology evaporates under the aridity of a state-of-the-art UV printer. Like other works of Schubert, the manipulated print reflects on naturalizing metaphors, such as liquidity, in the realm of digital information technologies and their technological implementation in interface designs –stating the growing regimentation of the circumstances of our lives by algorithmic organizational structures remaining concealed beneath the veil of appearances to allow for smooth workflows.