The threshold to the new millennium is littered with conceptions of the disappearing body, which began to manifest itself in the 80’s and 90’s in conjunction with the “dismantling of the self” in the face of technological advances. In 1982, Dietmar Kamper and Christoph Wulff philosophised about the “Return of the Body,” whose disappearance was implied. The Canadian film director, David Cronenberg, puts the fragmented body at the forefront of his film, “Crash,” where copulation becomes possible only in the aftermath of automotive accidents; and Paul Virilio predicts that information media and bio-industrial intervention will “Conquer the Body.” Modern art’s concentration on one of the recurring themes in art history must also be seen against the backdrop of the body’s impending loss of power. The first exhibition at the Fotogalerie Wien to deal with the theme complex of the “body” focuses on the “self”, the actual opposite of the body. Since the dawn of the modern age the relationship between the body and “the self” is expressed as the relationship between the body, an object not belonging to the personality, and the subject, the bodiless self. Self-consciousness, therefore, can rule over the body, and the body then be forgotten if not for the “individual, who feeds off the psychological-spiritual whole.”
Michaela Moscouw knows about the desire for that entity, because the search for the orientation of the body and that of the self is existential for her. Where does the self start and the “body” begin, where do they agree, and where do they lose each other again? Each attempt at extraction is manifested as “tracks left by the body” in the “life-size” photograms. The performance of the work process at the small, reduced and familiar place of the own apartment underlines the retreat into the chosen prison of the self that looks for the far and wide within itself. Light sensitive paper and bodies embrace each other mutually, only to retreat in the next moment. The tracks of existence left behind come closer to the self.
Rosa Brueckl and Gregor Schmoll rely on historically determined and socially based poses and gestures and create a visual categorisation of their contemporary forms in their photographic installations. Brueckl and Schmoll express the biblical theme of Adam and Eve, who discover their naked bodies and are ashamed, in the tradition of the self-portrait and in combination with Hockneyist elements create a contemporary parallel. The body and the self take on an outer examining role, and can then relate to the taken poses and their connotations.
The search for the self stands in the foreground of Maria Haas’ photographic exhibition. The choice of photos describes the fascination with the body and the psychological processes involved in the assumption of different roles. Color and compositional elements of single sections remind of historic “Madonna with Child” representations, while the central photography with open mouths reminds of pornographic body replacement. The bandwidth of the constructed, often in several sequences layered poses plays with the observing voyeur and the self related perception, where the self does not show itself from behind the beautiful appearance.
As Carl Aigner brought forth, one can filter out constant moments in the autobiographical, the urban and in connection with that, the political level of an identity in the work of Josef Wais. In the photo series, “Tango Schlaf”, the autobiographical view is concentrated on the conflict with sexual perception, that usually falls victim to social taboos. Formal moments and aesthetic thinking determine each of the self-portraits, which range from mysterious arrangements of color in a foreboding ambience, from occasional hints to detailed narratives. Blurry contours and moving poses provoke the imagination. The “self” dominates the body and turns the voyeur a cold shoulder.
Per Huettner takes an ironic position to the normal use of pornography and demonstrates his personal research in new ways of using pornography in his video. Single pages of porno magazines stick to his naked, sticky body and add up to a garment. Pornography lies between nudity and being covered.