Tracey Moffatt, Up in the Sky, 1997
From late October until the end of December, 2002, L.A. Galerie is presenting a group exhibition titled "TWO OF US". To be selected, a picture had to feature two protagonists who were connected in some way or other.
The chosen works depict people in a variety of life phases and situations—childhood and adolescence, family life and the workplace, friendships and love relations. One of the challenges facing the artists was how to deal with the clichés inherent in these themes as well as the preformed images that our "collective memory" imposes on us.
The seemingly arbitrary selection criterion made for an exciting collection of works. A cross-section of roughly 30 years of photography—from the 1970s until today—, it uncovers a number of quite unexpected principles underlying artistic work with this medium. The documentary character of photography, for instance, stays in the background almost entirely, even if some contributors, such as Tracey Moffatt, play around with it masterly. Instead, it is a drive towards stylization and exaggeration which dominates the collection.
One can also, however, observe a development over the course of time: Whereas the older generation of participating artists advocates a rather emphatic concept of art, the younger ones, mastering their trade with great technical skill, feel much freer to move about the wide field of documentation, photo story, stills and artwork.
In his black-and-white pictures from the early 1970s, Arthur Tress exposes the hidden aggressions, dependencies and subjugations that are a part of parent-child relationships. In one surreal composition, a mother and her adult son both smile as she is pressing a hot iron upon his hand. In another picture of the series, a little girl lays her head on a chopping block while her father is holding a sharp knife as if ready to go ahead.
Tracey Moffatt´s series Scarred for Life deals with the psychological wounds stemming from childhood and adolescence. The Australian artist presents traumatic situations, moments of humiliation and shame, which have scarred the protagonists for life.
Yet besides these bleak elements, there are friendlier, affectionate, even touching moments as well. David Hilliard puts together a wall-size collage of three photographs, each taken from a slightly different angle but depicting the same scene: a sore foot being bandaged. An everyday moment of private life, it is yet one of great tenderness and care which captures the viewer´s attention, not least because of its elaborate presentation. Chris Verene photographed romantic overtures between teenagers in rural America, using the bold colors of American television culture and thus taking the protagonists out of their dreary surroundings to a certain extent. Verene succeeds artfully in capturing an atmosphere of interplaying shyness and coolness. The photographs of the Korean Johnny Pack–who was born in Germany and now lives in New York—also convey an atmosphere of great tension. It never becomes quite clear, though, what goes on before our eyes, as there is no apparent story. The images, the emotions, the questions all remain with the viewer.