Stefanie Moshammer, Vienna

In the Studio

Courtesy the artist; (c) Stefanie Moshammer

»Photography can be used to get as close as possible to the actual 'reality'.«

Without doubt, Stefanie Moshammer ranks among the most respected positions of a new generation of photographers. Her pictures move between the genre of documentation and fiction, between spontaneity and staging. Her work springs from her direct experience of the world and explores the relationship of straightforward observation and the poetry of personal impressions. The use of vivid colors, stark contrasts, unexpectedly cropped scenes, and her skill for subtle observation, is what make her photos so unmistakable.

Stefanie, for someone unfamiliar with your work, can you tell us about the artistic concerns that motivate your work/practice?
I mostly work in the field of photography and sometimes this includes the moving image. My work often contains a documentary core that is linked to the concept of fiction, offering an ambiguous convergence of representations and realities. Thereby I put myself in different places in order to observe and to allow a poetic perception to emerge and rise to the surface. It’s a mix of spontaneous situations in juxtaposition with staged photography, revealing a certain place or subject. An exploration of myths and stereotypes is also entailed which includes the uncertainty of what I am ultimately going to see.

In a time when anyone can be a photographer of sorts, photography is sometimes contested as an artistic medium. What is your response to this as someone who has made the decision to work in this medium?
I think photography can never be the same as art. Photography is a very open and direct medium, but art itself is usually very indirect. Photography only becomes art when a certain intention is associated with it. So, it's not the medium of photography that is the interpolator, but the photographer who on the basis of his or her own language functions as the art creator. This requires more than just the production of images. The images must be put into context. The image as such, without context, without discussion, is simply an image. Thus, I understand that photography has a longer way to be perceived as art.

Are there situations in which the medium is indispensable, in other words, are there ideas that can be better expressed through the use of photography rather than any other medium?
Photography can be used to get as close as possible to the actual "reality". Of course, every photograph is subjective in its own way, but there exists a predetermined backdrop that can be used. I also believe that it is easier to reach people by means of photography. Depending on the kind of photography used, I would say that most people can identify more with a photographic image. However, it is also a dangerous medium, because it is always assumed that a photograph reflects a certain truth, in the sense of "that must have occurred like this". And this is precisely what is so exciting about this medium – the artist’s manipulation and intervention of the image created by the camera.

What can we expect in your show as part of the exhibition program of the first edition of Foto Wien?
The exhibition I Can Be Her, taking place at Collectors Agenda showroom on Franz-Josefs-Kai 3, is a very small excerpt from the workgroup by the same title. Is the result of a two-month stay in Las Vegas: a typewritten letter of 35 lines, constituting a bizarre declaration of love by a stranger named Troy. The work revolves around this letter and with it a person who both exists and doesn’t exist, it examines questions of reality and fabrication, especially as far as love is concerned, which, particularly at the beginning, has a fictitious aspect inasmuch as you invent someone in an idealized way, then gradually get to know the real person. I Can Be Her was an attempt to create a theme of of love, illusion, and the search for identity. In a way, Troy "fantasized" me in his letter and I turn it around reinventing it in another way. Nevertheless, a lot is left open for the observer.

Interview: Florian Langhammer
Photos: Courtesy of the artist unless otherwise credited

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