Text I wrote for the Lotto BrandenBurg Fotografie Preis 2022
The theme that unites all my works is time. I use my own digital photos to create images that are usually part of larger artworks. What you see here [link to the images I send in for the price] are just the prints, made the way I am now doing more and more: transfer printing on painted surfaces and then disguise them as artifacts weathered by time. For me the printing process I use now with digital images, is as important as creating a print from a negative like I used to do in a darkroom.
The works I create that way are fake, they are forgeries of artworks that have never existed. Or maybe they will, one day, in the future. Before I die, I want to put a lot of artworks in watertight containers and bury them in the earth or hide them in the mountains. And they will be accompanied by fake documents written by non-existent experts who write about their history and the artists that created them. It could be a collection like the ones I present here. I am in the testing phase for a larger project.
Why should I want to make artworks about time? As an artist I see myself as part of a development that started thousands of years ago. The oldest figurative art found in caves is about 35 thousand years old, the oldest decorative art is over 15 thousand years old, and the oldest known landscape painting is about 3500 years old. Development in art is done by learning and copying from one another. And by retelling the same story over and over again, making it stronger every time it is retold.
But this development is also human development, because art and being human are somehow connected. In that light I want people to think about time, and especially about time frames that are longer than the lives of one individual, or a number of generations that one individual can grasp right now.
Somehow different times need different stories. In this era, maybe starting with futurism or with romanticism even, we tend to think of art as something unique and the artist as the individual genius who created that unique piece of work – and all those works should point towards a future where everything is better than today and everything is brand new and never seen before. ‘Make room, make room’, says the futurist manifesto and warns those that are in their way to step aside, or else…
This is of course connected with the western world in general where we think science will save us all no matter what happens and our flourishing economy will make us better people, living in eternal peace and unity. But Trump/Qanon, our inaction towards global warming, resistance to Covid measures, the current war and the narratives surrounding it, have proven that we are not as in control of our destiny as we would like. What it has also shown us, is that people are not convinced by facts.
I would love to make strong political art about this – but I am convinced this would not work. The only thing I can do as an artist, is ask questions, try to make people aware of this longer timeline, where art and being human is not this individualistic endeavor.
And it all starts with the question: ‘How old is this artwork really and who created it?’ And is followed by the answer that it is not clear and there is no way of knowing that.