Helmut Vakily: The Production
For Michael Janiszewski
What a corpse is the past in comparison
when your memory lies under the rubble?
What suffering befalls the dead
when they come back to life in front of you in pictures?
And what meaning does the future have for you?
„hinterrücks / from behind“
Photographic work 1990–2000
“Since the early 1990s Michael Janiszewski has been dealing with the theme of staged sexuality in his photographic work, within which two clearly defined phases can be differentiated. Phase 1 begins with the photographs taken in the year 1990 and ends in August 1994. After the photo session of 3.9.1994, Janiszewski almost entirely stopped creative work. For him, abandoning further photographic productions meant the adequate commemoration of the suicide of a close friend. Only after an almost two-year long interruption did he continue his work in 1997. Whereas in Phase 1 he worked together with a model, who acted under his direction, he completely replaced the human actor with a simulacra in Phase 2. Phase 2 can be viewed as a continuation and radicalisation of Phase 1.”
Phase 1 of the work already indicates what is radicalised in Phase 2: The gender-specifically-coded attributes begin to grow independent. The drawing material grows exuberant and lifts itself above its bearer…
The exuberance of the costume and the disguise, already notable earlier, is radically forced in Phase 2. Whereas in Phase 1 the actor is still present and represents a however natured rudimentary reality under the covers of the costume, the actor as costume-bearer disappears in Phase 2. What remains is just the costume, the cover without the content and if the actor reappears, then as stuffed doll. Phase 2 consists exclusively of costume and exuberance, of excerpts and fragmentation. What is real is absorbed by the Simulacrum ….
The forcedness of the simulation does not just take place as an unchaining of the material, but also as an excerpt from the scenes and props from Phase 1. Pictures of the disguised actor from behind in Phase 1 return as photographs of the stuffed costume. The props that are used earlier are rearranged and fragmented anew. In “Figure with black contour mask (lamentation)” the mitre is put together in a phallic manner on a packaging roll together with the high heeled-vase from earlier pictures. Fragments of the wig hang on a clothes hanger like a cut-up costume. In the foreground, the actor is on his knees as a doll. His face is covered with a black cloth. The cloth reaches to the floor and appears as if it were an outflow of the face…
Phase 2 resembles a ruin of Phase 1. The keynote of the staging is now more violent and more painful: the actor returns as stuffed doll. On one picture he lies as if dead on the floor, next to him the glasses, and on another picture two paving stones lie next to him. In ironic inversion of the parody on German unity, “now grows together what belongs together,” Janiszewski titles a younger photograph: “now breaks down what belongs together.” The title can be understood as a leading motif of his photographic productions of the last recent years.
Heinz Schütz, in: Michael Janiszewski, Photographic work: 1990–1999, Camera Austria Publishing Company, Graz, 2000 (Text excerpt)
“Looking Back 2 Move Forward”
Death opened a window of opportunity and through it we jumped into Photography. There we met Chaos, Memory, Lies, Art and the People. The purpose of the following is to present in short this journey.
When the old Romanian political system died brutally in December 1999, we were working for an art magazine that capitalized for almost 50 years on its uniqueness in the local culture. We managed shortly to divert Arta” from its conservative program”