09.04.05 - 28.05.05

Grit Schwerdtfeger | Distanz


Standing, looking, lifting the ball

Text by Kristina Tieke, Translation by Vivian Kea

"She always remains aloof. When Grit Schwerdtfeger approaches her motifs, she does it with that certain aloofness, which finds it's expression in a save distance. Places and people stay untouched, completely in their element. The photographical act is not an interference. And because she finds the perfect perspective particulary in distance, she opens our view for complex situations, for social and urban coherences. The total view is capable for everyday life.

In her actual photo-series Grit Schwerdtfeger concentrates on locations of the vacation culture: beach, hot springs, parks and viewing platform. There is nothing exotic about these public spaces, nothing spectacular, which could allow an identification of these places. That the series was produced in Italy 2004 is not of importance, because Grit Schwerdtfeger is interested in the confidance of the circumstances. Engrossed from a certain place and displaced from time, the scenes play back under undesignated white skys, in settings of cautious colours and with vacation actors, who display one thing above all, their calm attitude. Mostly they stand and look and sometimes they lift a ball. We know scenes like these, have often experienced them ourselves. Moments without a designation and pressure of time, long while at it's best.

The casual beauty of this imagery may remind one of the "every day arcadias/ Alltags Arkadien", which the curator Trevor Smith ascribes to the works by the Swiss photographer Beat Streuli, especially those of Bondi Beach in the Australian Sydney. Despiting the apparent varieties, both artists reflect the public life in cities and at beaches with an unmistakable intuition for the psychical mood of the people, which they observe. However, while Streuli multiplies his photographs to the seductive size of billboards, tracking the manipulate powers of adds and film, Grit Schwerdtfeger limits herself to an unspectacular habile format. And as he approaches his actors in close-ups, to confer meaning to the little gestures and expressions, she consequently remains aloof. Suprisingly her attitude does not seem impassive - rather empathic, as if she seems to know of the sensibility of the individuals, which needs to assert itselfs space in the social arrangement. Her strictly kept distance suggests, that we are about to enter privacy. And in fact, the intimate scenes reveal intimate information.

In the park of the Villa Torlonia, were small groups meet on a sandfield for soccer games, it is easy to identify who with whom is going to start off the game. At the same time the view abuts on the lonesome viewers at the right border, matchless in their lapsed attitude. And upon the boy, who places the ball in front of his toes in a clumsy way, ready to fool his friend.

Moments of pause are kept in these images, an anticipation of continuance. In that way Grit Schwerdtfeger's photography gains this seldom quality, beyond the hectic snapshot or staged group picture, in which generality reflects. By no means this excludes, that the static scenes with quite punchline narrate from the before and after: a young man, wide-legged over his girlfriend, pulls up his pants self-forgetting. And on the playground a child seems unsuccessfully ensnared in the climbing net, while wire-fence and soccer-net around draw suspenseful patterns.

Actually, Grit Schwerdtfegers photo-works are rich of formal refernces, especially where she captures deserted spaces with visual humor. There a raspy bark absorbs the rough structure of a stone wall, the red of scattered clothing pieces fit diagonal in the picture or the fringes of the beach house roofs resemble the fringy green of the safety fences, above which they cheekily luge. Different from Martin Parr, whose brash seaside resort photographs act like colorfield paintings, or Andreas Gursky, in whose abstract tableaus human crowd act as ornaments, Grit Schwerdtfeger is less about the pictorial aspect in her images. In fact, the compostion in her work develops as a random appearing reality. The order of the world, here we find it affirmed, in case we are able to interpet the signs, to which the photographer draws our attention: obvios structures, iteration, symmetries. Not by accident she chooses central perspective, which organises the enviroment around the center, in the foreground mostly green, wall pieces, sand borders - fragments of a classical frame. Even if the single image might bluff over the legislation of the reality, the works make sence in series by the latest.

With her interpretation, Grit Schwerdtfeger leaves the documentarial terrain and stays part of the world, which she photographs, together with the viewer. Cherrful, melancholic and unseldom laconic, her images remind of past vacation fun and anticipate, that future vacations will be from similar kind. As between expectation and retrospection, her art stays in abeyance. The results are at present. The time to see is now."