A voracious collector of amateur photographs and subjects, Thomas Mailaender has dedicated his recent practice to developing and exploring innovative ways of bringing his ‘Fun Archive’ into the line of art. This personal collection, started in 2000, contains over eleven thousand images gathered from the Internet and numerous flea markets around Europe. Working with the cyanotype – a traditional photographic printing method that produces a distinctive blue-hued print – Mailaender has employed his archived images to create innovative works that not only entertain his audiences with their amusing and candid content but at once highlight the changing parameters of art today.
The display presents together a collection of Mailaender’s newest works in varied formats. His largest cyanotypes, mounted upon plasterboards measuring 250 x 120 cm, feature arresting images that draw attention to the often-absurd nature of human behaviour. In his Highway Thunder (Is Kippenberger Alive???) (2015) for example, we find a middle-aged man photographed near to a main road wearing only white underpants; a lightening bolt pierces the background, accentuating the treacherous thunderstorm in which he stands, seemingly unperturbed. As the title of the work references, the subject’s appearance evokes the series of self-portraits painted by Martin Kippenberger from 1988, in which the German artist pictured himself in similar attire and with a touching lack of vanity.
Among the presentation of his large works, the exhibition includes a number of the artist’s smaller paper prints through which he has experimented with photograms: a unique type of contact print made without the use of a camera. In his Jungle Fever (2015), Mailaender acquired a selection of plant leaves, which he placed upon the photosensitive paper before exposing it to light, leaving a striking impression of the leaves among the occupied ‘Fun Archive’ images. In employing the use of photograms Mailaender accentuates the artist’s hand, adding to the artistic sensibility and the uniqueness of his innovative cyanotypes.
On the occasion of the exhibition, Thomas Mailaender will be discussing his work in a talk with Diane Smyth (British Journal of Photography) and the director of collections at the Société Française de Photographie (SFP), Luce Lebart. Prussian Blue opens on 25 August and will be on display until 25 September 2015
About the Artist
Thomas Mailaender (b.1979) is a French multimedia artist living and working between Paris and Marseille. His work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in major art institutions and festivals internationally, such as at the Centre Pompidou in France and at Festival Images in Vevey, Switzerland. One of Mailaender’s great virtues is his ingenuity and ability to orchestrate found objects through his work. Known for his witty and often impudent works, Mailaender’s oeuvre entertains with its curious and conspicuous displays.
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