by Bettina Reichmuth
Kerstin Flake created her analogue photo series “Replaces” (2012) in rooms we know as “studios”, or which, indistinguishable from these, are defined as such through her work. The question of a place where all external influences can be neutralised is also based on the conceptual image of the studio, which is closely linked to the activity of the artist: inspiration, coincidence, transfer. Assertion and pose. The studio as a frame of reference for the entire working process of the artist.
When Flake simulates a neutral studio situation, she begins a game of questions: to what extent does art production depend on the context? Can an artist transform a space into a studio by means of art? And finally: if photography itself is not unambiguous, how flexible are concepts? Similar aspects interest her about the objects and people she has chosen for her arrangements. She reworks hierarchies, perspectives and functions until all the components shed their semiotic ballast and merge into new installations. In this analogue process of abstraction, tables, chairs, lamps and people become animated objects in equal measure, from theatrical to bewilderingly surreal in their posture and implied movement. Further distance is created through photographic documentation in the form of „portraits“. Or are they moments in a mysterious film, there but not there, in a way that only a large-format camera can create? The human figure is presented from behind, headless or weightless. Floating fabric capsules, poles, frames, two legs projected across the picture seem like fantasies whose geometric forms on paper suddenly become spatial drawings.
The gallery visitor sees the studio and the temporary metamorphosis of the art objects from a kind of internal auditorium. But the insight “behind the scenes” turns out to be a view of the stage – with no backdrops. Here, reality is exhibited as something that is constantly restaged: like reoccurring thoughts, some things appear several times, the figure repeats variations of dancing poses until it drops – a spontaneous choreography with its own rules, a bizarre balancing act that never ends. On the other hand, the fact that it is staged within the gallery space as a series of photographs points towards an answer to the question formulated by Godard: „How do you put reality into reality?”