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On Tour Werkschau

WERKSCHAU XXVII – CHRISTIAN WACHTER

Concept versus Photography

4. October 2022 – 26. November 2022

Christian Wachter (AT)

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FOTOGALERIE WIEN ON TOUR: FOTOHOF, SALZBURG

The FOTOGALERIE WIEN will be on tour until autumn 2023: During the renovation period, our exhibitions will be shown at friendly institutions at home and abroad. Our first host in Austria is the FOTOHOF in Salzburg, with which we are presenting Christian Wachter’s WERKSCHAU XXVII. Wachter is an early representative of Austrian author photography, but soon opened his work to politically reflective conceptual photography. Entitled Concept versus Photography, the exhibition shows the broad spectrum of Wachter’s work from the 1980s to the present day.

Opening and catalogue presentation, FOTOHOF, Salzburg: Saturday, 1 October 2022, 7 p.m.
The FOTOHOF will be open on this day due to the Long Night of Museums from 6:00 pm – 1:00 am.
Opening speech: Susanne Neuburger
Exhibition place: FOTOHOF, Inge-Morath-Platz 1–3, 5020 Salzburg http://fotohof.net
Opening hours: Tu–Fr 3–7 p.m., Sa 11 a.m.–3 p.m.

Artist talk, FOTOHOF, Salzburg: Christian Wachter with Johan Nane Simonsen (FOTOGALERIE WIEN) and Peter Schreiner (FOTOHOF, Salzburg):
Friday, 4 November, 7 p.m.

sponsored by: BMOEKS; MA7-Kultur; Cyberlab

WERKSCHAU XXVII is the continuation of the annual series of exhibitions in the FOTOGALERIE WIEN which has been going on for the last 27 years. They present contemporary artists who have significantly contributed to the development of art photography and the new media in Austria. To date there has been a cross section of work by Jana Wisniewski, Manfred Willmann, VALIE EXPORT, Leo Kandl, Elfriede Mejchar, Heinz Cibulka, Renate Bertlmann, Josef Wais, Horáková + Maurer, Gottfried Bechtold, Friedl Kubelka, Branko Lenart, INTAKT – Die Pionierinnen (Renate Bertlmann, Moucle Blackout, Linda Christanell, Lotte Hendrich-Hassmann, Karin Mack, Margot Pilz, Jana Wisniewski), Inge Dick, Lisl Ponger, Hans Kupelwieser, Robert Zahornicky, Ingeborg Strobl, Michael Mauracher, PRINZGAU/ podgorschek, Maria Hahnenkamp, Robert F. Hammerstiel, Sabine Bitter & Helmut Weber, Michaela Moscow, Günther Selichar and Heidi Harsieber. In the context of FOTOGALERIE WIEN ON TOUR we are glad to present now the WERKSCHAU XXVII with artist Christian Wachter.

Christian Wachter augments the principal photographic dispositif of his work with semantic, conceptual and even performative elements so that it sometimes seems as if he is about to leave photography behind when he is often actually re-engaging and paraphrasing its very parameters. Here, formal decisions such as repetitions and sequences are as formative to the works as they can be narratively austere and cryptic, as it is especially the case with the two series NFT-C (Non-Fungible Tobacco-Containers) or Diana. They speak of a quasi doubled-up “has-been” that is inherent to the motifs and the photograph, but they also contain moments of archiving or retrospection. Likewise the cartridge cases in Diana and the cigarette packets in NFT-C speak of a kind of survivance when waste products become the protagonists of conceptual reflection.

As we learn from the context of another work group from before 2014, 2017/2022, NFT-C, a series of more than 100 colour prints, the flat still had a darkroom at that time which was removed in 2000 and afterwards used as a smoking room. The narration is succinct though quantitatively extensive as if the images would have to pictorially master long life- and work-processes. For years Wachter collected the cigarette packets, above all the very Austrian brand with a long history, Smart Export, to then photograph them in great detail. He operated with objectivity as a device and again chose a strict form: we “only” see each object in the context of the next one which, although formally different, is nevertheless similar. The packets appear to be randomly crushed and when they become iconic as central objects, they have made use of their index twice. They paraphrase still lifes as we know them from painting and photography and work with the gesture of duration with which neo-avant-garde wanted to exclude subjectivity and emotionality and subject to strict rules and directives. If the idea, the concept, took the foreground here together with a certain dematerialisation, the latter cannot apply to Wachter who lights the subjects of his photos as if they were precious collectible objects and allows their materiality to speak as if they were sculptures.In Diana the concern is with nature, the hunt, with empty cartridge shells which have been left lying around in the countryside. Wachter photographed them in two locations in Liguria on two separate days in 2008. Like a proponent of land art he opened up areas on foot which he put together in a filmic sequence. (excerpt from a text by Susanne Neuburger) 

Petra Noll-Hammerstiel, for the collective