May 28 - July 16, 2005

Stefan Panhans POOL

The photo series "Red Light, White Sands, Black Palms", which has been continuously expanded since 2002, comprises numerous instances of posing captured en passant by the camera. The protagonists show skilfully rehearsed styles and poses of supranational role models conveyed by the media and show themselves in middle of the highly commercialised urban cityscape's “stages“. The evidently “unartistic” nature of the photographs reveals that the adept stylisations are to be found less on the side of the artist than on the side of the motifs, since the issue here is that the subject – before actually being photographed – has already become an image under the dictatorial regime of images. The "participatory observation" of the camera prevents the possibility of establishing a critical distance in favour of an accomplice-like form of research which does not reject voyeurism. In the mote recent photos of this series, a shift can be discerned to strange, almost surreal sceneries in which styles are broken, and discrepancies and exaggerations twist the clichés until the hitherto unambiguous semantics are lost. In the collage-like confrontation of disparate things, the surfaces burst open for other, unforeseen images.

In his most recent video work, “Pool” from 2004, Panhans intensifies the alienating force inherent to the juxtaposition of what is heterogeneous. He supplements the visual dimension with language and has the actress, sitting in a Smart in front of a vague landscape, recite a text formulating the imperatives of self-stylisation. Conflicting with the dreamlike, unreal setting, one hears the 7-minute-long forceful request: “So Listen, we’re in the middle of this production, therefore we need people who dare to do things, who stand up to themselves. Real characters, very unique, self-confident types, you got it? You just have to be yourself, but at its top,...”

Kathrin Busch