Frederic Weber: Memento Mori & Primary Light
On show, is the highly anticipated Puppenhaus series, by Cornelia Hediger. This forms the artist's third exhibition with the gallery and showcases the artist's handmade photo-collages. Made between 2014–2016, the series is inspired by the likes of Hannah Höch, John Heartfield and Grete Stern among others. The photographs are constructed out of a combination of pigment and gelatin silver prints, with imagery originating from various sources including the artist's studio practice, and scans of wallpaper, paint and cardboard. These are combined with recent photographs of travels in Europe, the patriarchal home in Switzerland and other family artifacts.
The Crucifixion (2016) © Cornelia Hediger
The hand of the artist is up front and center across the Puppenhaus series—pencil marks, irregular cuts left exposed, paint, hanging string, and individual elements attached in low relief, which together draw attention to the unusual focal planes, angles of view and shifts in scale. All of this combines perfectly with the seemingly whimsical narratives, that take the viewer on a journey through the artist's fictionalized world. The use of self-portraiture prevails, linking this series back to the previous Doppelgänger work. We 'Cornelias' having rea, balancing cups, acting out in odd domestic spaces and going on journeys. In one piece, reminiscent of the 19th Century, Chilean Ladies by Spencer y Cia, we see 100 heads—all of the artist—receding back into the distance. Hedger has created theatrical scenes, as if on a stage, images which are extraordinary and which pull you right into their three-dimensional space.
Frederic Weber brings to his photographic practice, a visual sensibility that challenges the viewer to determine quite what they're looking at. On show are selections from two bodies of work, Memento Mori and Primary Light, both of which draw attention to Weber's penchant for making photographs the don't always look like photographs.
Memento Mori is constructed from a combination of images, that the artist has excavated from comic books, magazines, newspapers, television, paintings and other printed matter. He presents images of tightly cropped heads of black and African subjects, presenting them almost as relics of time past. The photographs are challenging, almost visually overwhelming, and difficult to fix within a specific framework. At once iconic, they echo historical post-mortem imagery, its a timestamp that is not fixed or even knowable. Made of several layers of different images, the photographs are rich in color and painterly.
Untitled No. 122 (1998) © Frederic Weber
The Primary Light series share this painterly quality. Here though, it is the reference to photograph's Pictorialism past, that is most evident. Weber presents torsos and heads that are rendered in soft-focus, with each emerging from the a depth of blue so saturated, the color transforms into an abyss, out of which the human forms glow like fire-flies. The ghostly figures seem nostalgic, classical even and partly unknowable.
Both bodies of work by Frederic Weber are produced as Ilfochromes, a photographic process introduced in the 1960s, that is well known for its rich highly-saturated colors. The prints on display are vintage, making this a rare opportunity to view this work as originally envisioned and printed.
Hediger and Weber are virtuosos of their materials, presenting extraordinary work that is meticulously made and visually stunning. The vision behind each artist's work, is evidence of their respective dedication to studio practices, that have spanned several years, and in which they share a concern for exploring—and exploiting—the photograph as both a tool of record, and a means of expressing a unique creative vision. This is the first time that they are exhibited together, bringing about an interesting curatorial conversation.