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© Michael Schäfer, Ohne Titel, aus der Serie Invasive Links, 2016, Inkjet print on wall paper (Premium Vlies), 352 x 252 cm

Michael Schäfer »


Exhibition: 24 Apr – 6 Jun 2018

Fri 20 Apr 19:00

Galerie Springer Berlin

Fasanenstr. 13
10623 Berlin

+49 (0)30-3157220


Tue-Fri 12-18, Sa 12-15 +

© Michael Schäfer, untitled, from the series Invasive Links, 2017, Inkjet print on wall paper (Premium Vlies), 400 x 285 cm

Michael Schäfer

Exhibition: 24 April ‐ 16 June 2018
Opening: Friday, 20 April, 7pm

In the fall of 2014, Michael Schäfer was confronted for the first time with video footage captured and posted on the net by fighters and civilians during the battle for Kobane. Since then, he has been preoccupied with this kind of video footage, its extremism and violence, its unfiltered reporting, which is delivered via internet straight into our living room respectively onto our screens. The lack of any contextualization by a reporter or an editor reinforces the immediacy of these images. Furthermore, this immediacy is accompanied by a general sense of hopelessness in regards to the seemingly intractable conflicts in the Middle East. Through media, we experience a closeness to the apocalyptic conditions that prevail in the crisis regions – and, according to the artist, this proximity would basically demand us to act. However, unlike during the Vietnam War, we don’t have any influence over the unfolding events. For example, we cannot demonstrate against a single government, because too many different forces are involved. All that remains for us to do is to scrutinize these conditions. This might at least result in a humane and helping attitude towards refugees.

For his series, “Invasive Links,” Michael Schäfer uses screen shots of videos taken by participants or witnesses of the war zone. Using the technique of digital montage he then inserts protagonists in mundane, everyday situations into the image spaces of the video stills. For this purpose he takes pictures with his studio camera of friends, aquaintances and of himself. This personal closeness is important to him in order to establish a collective "we," to visually build a connection between "us" and the conflicts taking place elsewhere. The artist is not interested in pointing fingers at others. In fact he is showing our inability to adequately respond to these conflicts as well as to their medial and digital transmission. By superimposing two competing realities, Michael Schäfer raises current questions: What does it mean when events transmitted through media increasingly permeate and alter our reality? Beyond the role of the spectator and the voyeur, what is our scope of action in regard to these images and the events underlying them? Presented as large-scale photographs on wallpaper, the images leave an immediate impression on the viewer.. In an absorbing fashion, they become part of the room.

A second work complex ("Night") presents video stills depicting assaults or attacks which took place in Germany. Schäfer doubles the image area of these screen shots. Visiting the sites of these events sometime after they have occurred, he takes pictures from the same point of view from which the videos were shot. Both the captured moment of the actual event and the moment after, in which everything has returned to normal, share the pictorial space of the montage, colliding exactly in the middle axis. The artist sees his approach as an extended form of documentary practice. The images are presented as prints in lightboxes.

Michael Schäfer’s montages are recognizable as such because individual parts of them exhibit different image qualities, Whether a picture has a high resolution and good sharpness, as for example in the case of the figures photographed by the artist, or whether it appears blurry and pixelated is essential. This is because these qualities in general hint to the source, origin and in some cases to the transmission of the visual material, thus becoming bearers of meaning. Michael Schäfer sees the poor image quality of the screen shots he uses as an expression of our current times. It reveals a particular aesthetic and media rhetoric, which, due to constantly improving technology, will no longer exist in the future. The spectators’ gaze can immerge in Schäfer’s extremely enlarged image spaces and register that they reveal only minimal information about what is hidden behind the technical veil of their meager reproduction. Thus, they also become a symbol of a time in which a general insecurity and aberrations in relation to any sort of information threaten to destabilize our worlds.

© Michael Schäfer, Breitscheidplatz (Berlin 19. Dezember 2016), 98,5 x 146,5 cm, Light box Edition 3


Ausstellung: 24. April bis 16. Juni 2018
Eröffnung: Freitag, 20. April, 19 Uhr

In Michael Schäfers Bildern kollidieren Realitäten: Screen Shots von Videos aus dem Netz und vom Künstler selbst angefertigte Fotografien sind das Material für die gegeneinanderstehenden Bildbereiche seiner Montagen. Die Serie "Invasive Links" zeigt Personen in uns vertrauten, alltäglichen Situationen. Doch sie wirken irritierend deplaziert inmitten von durch Kriegshandlungen zerstörten Umgebungen – irgendwo in Syrien oder Irak. Durch ihre Präsentation als großformatige Tapeten lassen sich die Bilder direkt erfahren, sie werden auf eindrückliche Art Teil des Raumes.

In einem zweiten Werkkomplex ("Nacht") sehen wir Videostills von Übergriffen oder Anschlägen in Deutschland. Diese Momente teilen sich den Bildraum mit einem zur Normalität zurückgekehrten Danach. Die Arbeiten werden als große Leuchtkästen präsentiert.

Es ist die gesteigerte Unmittelbarkeit der visuellen Berichterstattung auf Videoplattformen, die Michael Schäfer beschäftigt. Das auf diesen Portalen präsentierte Bildmaterial wird von Akteuren oder Zeugen der Ereignisse aufgenommen. Es erreicht uns ungefiltert, ohne vorher von einer Redaktion bearbeitet und kontextualisiert worden zu sein. Was bedeutet es, wenn medial übertragene Ereignisse immer mehr unsere Wirklichkeit durchdringen und damit verändern? Welchen Handlungsspielraum besitzen wir den Bildern und damit den ihnen zugrundeliegenden Geschehnissen gegenüber, jenseits der uns zugewiesenen Rolle des Zuschauers bzw. Voyeurs?

© Michael Schäfer, untitled, from the series Invasive Links, 2017, Inkjet print on wall paper (Premium Vlies), 200 x 143 cm
© Michael Schäfer, Husarenhof (Bautzen 21. Februar 2016), 98,5 x 146,5 cm, Light box Edition 3