MICHAEL SCHIRNER, PICTURES IN OUR MINDS
Auf dem größten Fotofestival der Welt 2013 in Toronto wurden 15 Pictures in our Minds auf 4 horizontal Billboards und 11 City Light Posters als Installation im öffentlichen Raum ausgestellt. Katalogauszug:
Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival is an annual event in May with Canadian and international artists and photographers exhibiting at more than 175 venues throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Founded as a not-for-profit organization in 1997 and now a charitable organization, the Festival is devoted to celebrating, and fostering the art and profession of photography, through a diverse range of programmes. As a leading proponent of photography, the Festival increases exposure and recognition for local, Canadian and international artists and is committed to advancing knowledge, creativity and innovation in photography. It stimulates excitement and discussion among a diverse audience that has grown to over 1.8 million. CONTACT is the largest photography event in the world, and premier event in Canada.
Michael Schirner’s series Pictures in our Minds (1985 – 2011) connects our processes of reading and visual interpretation, reflecting on how language is intimately connected with the cultural codes through which we understand images. Schirner’s stark descriptions of iconic photographs evoke images that have been engraved in our collective consciousness by the ubiquity of mass media. Drawing on the conventions of advertising and the strategies of conceptual art, they engage the viewer’s interpretive faculties, deliberately withholding any actual glimpse of the photos themselves. Displayed within the everyday context of billboards and street posters, the work highlights the public nature of visual culture and the role of images in structuring our perceptions. Referencing the plain tone of documentary photo captions, Schirner’s white texts on black backgrounds describe a wide range of notable images: many are traumatic, such as Naked Vietnamese child fleeing after a napalm attack, which conjures the photograph of Phan Thi Kim Phúc taken by Nick Ut (1972); others are lighthearted, such as Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out, which describes the uncharacteristic 1951 portrait of the physicist by Arthur Sasse. Each of Schirner’s image references share an ability to evoke the powers of our imaginations and a sense of cultural import that is greater than what can be signified by visual language alone.
Based in Berlin and Beijing, Schirner works at the intersection of multiple genres, blurring the boundaries between mass media, fine art, and photography. This wide range reflects the German artist’s diverse professional life: Schirner is a creative director in advertising, a professor of communication design, and an artist working at the intersection of media art, photography, performance, and installation.