The original prints of Make believe propose a subjective and political tableau of the city of Berlin: dug from Knes’ archives, they have been captured over the last ten years, a period corresponding to the artist’s residency in the German metropolis. Primarily meant to document his encounters with the city, these images, when retrospectively selected by Knes, furthermore depict the city as a stage for political issues. Indeed, Knes portrays Berlin through an iconography raising economical, governmental and social connotations, deliberately explicit or more ambiguous/incidental: a close-up of the golden facade of Axel-Springer-Haus (a German press tycoon, with an anti-intellectual, conservative right-wing editorial publishing house located in front of the Wall), an anti-George W. Bush demonstrator, a miniature reproduction of a shed, a low-key TV crew at a Kurdish demonstration, two identical horses (one at the left and the other to the right, facing each other), details of a Plattenbau building (a prefabricated construction, emblematic of former East Germany) with a «ghost» appearing in the window and the lethargic back of a person at a bus station…and so on.
Knes plays with the heterogeneity of forms and functions of the photographic object. Pinned on a wall next to a framed painting, the photograph is considered as a piece of art. Stacked on a desk, it stands for documentation. Under the foot of a chair, it becomes functional. Cut, trashed, torn, folded, archived, exhibited, twisted, stuck, superimposed, interlayered, unbalanced, hidden, cropped—mistreated, ignored, forgotten or glorified—the photographic object via the eyes of Knes is desacralized, trivialized/banalized, by giving it back its everyday acceptance and usage.
Not only multiple in shapes and arrangements, these pictures are mutant and ambivalent in meanings, triggering alternative implications when confronted by the various codes that furniture and objects in the apartment represent. Each setup and association either serves or deprives any given image, either parasited or empowered by its surroundings, through an iconographic mise-en-abyme of signs and symbols. make believe examines the political authority of photographs depending on their contextualization, and through their immersion within a private domain. Knes also interrogates the very nature of the image itself, the determination of its political value, pondering under what conditions an image promotes/conveys a committed statement.
- Heinz Peter Knes - Make Believe
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