© Oskar Schmidt. Ladder, 2011. Museo Fine Art Print.
Oskar Schmidt presents his latest work titled “The American Series I – XII”. In this, he creates new portrayals of selected photographs by Walker Evans – today part of the cultural memory – in a two-pronged way. To do this, he set up life-sized settings in his studio, with which he produced detailed remakes of Walker Evans’ pictorial compositions. A weathered wooden wall with worn aluminium tableware or an old chair in front of it, various details of a modest wooden hut or a piece of torn hardwood floor with battered everyday objects can be found in the pictures. Oskar Schmidt depicts these minimalist and deserted stagings with invariable light conditions. Oskar Schmidt’s photographs are quotation and construct at the same time – here, gradual shifts in perspective and objects force the characteristic of the designed results compared with their drafts. Schmidt’s works point to pivotal questions of photography such as authenticity and authorship while at the same time dealing with their elemental basic requirements: light and shadow. Along with the media-reflecting approach gained through the process of annexation, Walker Evans’ photos meet with a re-contextualisation. In this historical dimension, Oskar Schmidt’s pictures – in spite of their fascinating calm and contemplative beauty – leave us with thoughts about the possible effects of our current social situation at the same time. “Looking at photographs means bringing the past to mind in the form of an image. With his new works, the artist Oskar Schmidt shows that this form of visual recollection indeed also concerns the history of photography itself. Schmidt’s entire “American Series” is informed by an exceedingly concise and sober pictorial language – one which is reduced to black and white and which we somehow think we have already seen before. In actual fact, however, not one of these images existed until recently. Yet they all refer to photographs taken by the American Walker Evans during the Great Depression in Alabama. Schmidt picks up this legendary photographic series from 1936, intensifying it into stunning still lifes which seem to stem from that time. It is a jarring impression of timelessness that we confront in these tableaux.“
Text: Professor Steffen Siegel.
Image : © Oskar Schmidt