PHOTOGRAPHED BYMai 27, 2011 by joseph | Allgemein PHOTOGRAPHED BY
Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert
Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert is a young emerging artist living and working in Berlin and Munich. His work consists of photography, drawings as well as paintings. His current projects focus on the medium of photography. Two of his latest photographic series, Corpus and Photographed by…, are shown for the first time in this exhibition.
The series Corpus Men – Corpus Women put the spotlight on the human body in a very rational sense. The men and women Ohlert portrays appear to be mere baseline studies, every attempt of sensuality or ornamentation is avoided. Aesthetically, these works may be reminiscent of Ryan McGinley’s oeuvre, however, Ohlert’s artistic eye seems to be even more factual and less romanticizing. The immediacy of the photos directs the gaze of the viewer and accentuates the relationship between photographed (object) and photographer (creator). We see the bodies of young men and women in the harsh flashlight of the single-use cameras Ohlert employs. The garishness of the light as well as the somehow neutral but also forced poses of the models clearly mark them as being controlled, as being objects.
When juxtaposing the Corpus series with the also exhibited Photographed by… series, Ohlerts artistic attention unfolds. Whereas he was the one in control in the Corpus series, he is now becoming the object himself, while being photographed by people of popular culture as well as artists: Pete Doherty, Vanessa Hudgens, Bela B, Bruce LaBruce, Bent Angelo Jensen, Lily Cole, August Diehl etc. While modeling for these well-known people, Ohlert is holding up a sign reading: “photographed by…” The incorporation of a textual level in the photos underlines the shift in the producer-product-relation. Ohlert, the actual artist becomes the object of his own art, seen and presented through the eyes of people who are normally the ones in front of the camera and thereby he is objectified. He even broadens the concept of the series by including family members and friends that share their very personal view on the artist. By reversing the common relation between artist and art object Ohlert initiates an interesting art discourse, as the viewer gets confronted with the question: What is art? Who is the artist?
The works shown in this exhibition might suggest that there is no differentiation anymore between artist, object and viewer, the lines are blurred and fluid. If the Corpus series features a classical artist, who is supposedly in control over his art, the idea gets immediately deconstructed when looking at the Photographed by… series, in which the artist has seemingly lost control.
“Der Künstler ist tot, es lebe die Kunst.”
“The artist is dead, long live the art.”
(Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert)
If the artist is, indeed, dead, the only instance to define art are the viewers. The viewers now have to evaluate what they see in front of them, they have to decide if what they see has, as Walter Benjamin once coined it, an aura, a historical testimony.