At this edition of UNSEEN Photo Festival, The Ravestijn Gallery presents three artists: Eva Stenram, and, new to the gallery, Martina Sauter and the artist duo Inez & Vinoodh. While the sensibilities of these artists are different, they all make use of collage in their work. The Ravestijn Gallery approaches these collage-like works from its strong emphasis on aesthetics, which always goes hand in hand with a profound intellectual approach to the medium of photography itself.
EVA STENRAM (Sweden, 1976)
In her latest series, Stenram turns for source material to sports magazines from the 1960s. Her interest in these started off with a curiosity to see how the body was presented, in an idealised form, in the media of that era. For her, the 1960s represents a point of rupture in society, that brought with it sexual revolution, political upheaval and changing gender roles. Now, though, of course, this moment is old; and the bodies, like the ink and paper of the magazines themselves, have degraded.
Her strategy was to re-photograph partial sections of these magazine photographs, from very close up, in a kind of forensic investigation of the imagery. In doing this, she looks for ways of first isolating details of images, and then further homing in — on details of the details. Markings and annotations, involving circled or numbered areas, hint at correspondences between the images, as though some hidden taxonomic code were being teased out of them. The strategy is evocative not only of police procedure, but also of aerial reconnaissance; it also suggests a state of paranoia, an over-interpretative state of mind that madly taxonomises, with the result that its subject matter multiplies beyond all power of interpretation, as in Antonioni’s Blow Up.
One aspect of the series that comes through most strongly is the way it captures moments of tenderness, perhaps eroticism, a dissolution and confusion of the boundaries of the body. As the gaze moves in closer and closer, the original image is lost, and as small corporeal zones distort they take on new roles and new identities within their new configuration.
Eva Stenram was born in Stockholm and lives and works in Berlin. Stenram’s work is represented in international collections including Moderna Museet, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Tate Collection. She has had solo exhibitions at Siobhan Davies Dance Studios (London), Mindepartementet (Stockholm) and Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool) and has participated in numerous group exhibitions worldwide, including the Mumbai City Museum, Seoul Museum of Art, Whitechapel Gallery and the V&A in London, Le Bal in Paris and Moderna Museet and Artipelag in Stockholm. Currently her work can be seen in A Handful of Dust at California Museum of Photography and Photography to End All Photography at Brandt’s Museum in Odense.
In 2012 she was nominated for Le Prix Découverte des Rencontres d’Arles (Discovery Award) and in 2007 she won the Royal College of Art Graduate Award. In 2013, Stenram was a finalist in the Hyeres International Photography Competition as well as the Aperture Portfolio Prize and she was the First Prize winner of the inaugural The Cord Prize.
MARTINA SAUTER (Germany, 1974)
Sauter investigates the image both as film and photography. By mixing images from these two mediums, she seeks to create new environments that are not unambiguous. Sometimes traces of human characters might be seen, while other images are like still lives, or atmospheric and enigmatic spaces. A remarkable feature of Sauter’s work is her use of the backside of every image, once again establishing connections between these carefully composed images: it is never just what one sees or expects, flip the image over and another context might be found.
Sauter lives and works in Düsseldorf, where she studied Photography at the art academy. She was the winner of the Thieme Award 2006. Her work has been shown at, among others, FOAM Amsterdam, Huis Marseille Museum voor Fotografie, Amsterdam, Museum für Photographie Braunschweig, Galerie DeZaal, Delft, Galerie van der Mieden, Antwerpen, Scharmann & Laskowski, Cologne.
INEZ & VINOODH (The Netherlands, 1963-1961)
Inez & Vinoodh (NL, 1963 and 1961) are partners and collaborators whose practice moves seamlessly between the art world and high fashion. Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin explore the boundaries of each genre in their work. In the early 1990s, they were among the first practitioners to show the possibilities of digital-imaging technology as a creative and meaningful medium and developed a signature style of visual seduction paired with provocative narratives. Shown at UNSEEN 2018 is one larger than life photograph of pop-icon Lady Gaga, the intervention of collage technique abstracts the world famous star into an almost unrecognisable, ethereal muse.
Inez & Vinoodh have created ground-breaking editorials for such publications as American, French, Japanese and Italian Vogue, V Magazine, Visionaire, The New York Times Magazine, The Gentlewoman, and W Magazine, as well as campaigns for Balenciaga, Balmain, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Isabel Marant, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Valentino and Yohji Yamamoto.
Their work has been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally including the Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Hayward Gallery in London, the Deichtor hallen in Hamburg and the Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. A retrospective show titled PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING 1985-2010 began its international tour at FOAM, Amsterdam in the summer of 2010 and has since travelled to the Pavillion Bienal in Sao Paulo, the Dallas Contemporary in Dallas and Fotografiska in Stockholm.
Showing these artists side by side, The Ravestijn Gallery achieves an appealing overview of the newest work by three of its high-profile artists. Moreover, it aims to create playful new connections between the work of Sauter, Stenram, and Inez & Vinoodh, most enticingly so in their use of collage, and the prominent role reserved for the spectator in providing possible narrative and connections. However different their approaches and artistic visions may be, by putting these works together, The Ravestijn Gallery presents a show where the boundaries of photography are again crossed and dissolved: the boundary between the artistic and the commercial, the aesthetic and the documentary, the found and the made image.