Juliane Feldhoffer, 2008
Opening remarks, Galerie Arcade, Mödling
In some way, everyone of us has personal experiences with this medium. No matter how much historical or technical knowledge one has, the fact, that photography constantly sourrounds us in daily life, does create a specific attitude towards this medium.
This is the point that Brigitte Konyen´s artwork makes, turning our apparent familiarity with photography upside down, and this is done in a playful, yet complex way.
Brigitte Konyen´s origins are that of a painter, today she mostly works with photographs. Her current creative process is closely tied with her earlier paintings.
Philippe Dubois once said that a painter can always decide himself when his picture is completed whereas for a photographer his work is done with the release of the shutter. This is surely not true when it comes to Brigitte Konyen´s artwork, where the photographic images merely serve as a starting point.
She cuts photographs into strips, taking as few as two, or sometimes dozens, and weaves them into both visualy stunning or more peaceful images.
The new image always consists of two layers, a horizontal and a vertical, but at the same time the viewer´s searching gaze can discover numerous new perspectives depending on the focus: the abstract large-format overview of the piece or the countless little fragments that make up the second layer.
Roland Barthes observed that when looking at photographs we always immediately place the focus on the central motif, neglecting the material. Brigitte Konyen´s answer to this is that, in her work the material, the photographic paper, literally plays the leading role. It is due to the material that these new images can be composed, enabling the viewer to constantly switch focus between the material and newly created images.
What happens here is most appealing. Every little change in distance or angle of view opens up new possibilities of perception. The large-format picture, the overview, visible from a distance, dissolves in fragments when approached – or reverses when backing away.
What effect does this have on our perception? The viewer´s gaze drifts to and fro, comes to rest on tiny details, then retreats for the overview.
Brigitte Konyen undermines our expectations of the photographic image by actually reconstructing originally perspectively centered images into anarchistic two-dimensional raster images. The pictorial space becomes a concrete surface, where woven crossings define new central points, and the varying width of the strips creates an altogether new rythm of the image structure.
Something similiar happens here with regard to contents: it is not of big importance whether the photographs used to have a private or public background – what matters is the general statement concerning the recognition of the photograph and the question of how photography influences the creation of memories.
Dubois says that in order to understand an image, it is absolutely necessary to be present at the place where the photograph was taken. The legend is only an emergency solution, given the extreme importance of the space-time continuum. Without it, the subsequent legibility of a picture´s content can never be complete.
Brigitte Konyen doesn´t even give us a chance to ask about contents, the basic material is made anonymous with her weaving, one layer partially covers the other one, what she lets us see are only fragments of photographs.
This even happens when she weaves together two identical photographs. A direct result of her weaving strips of the photographs is the displacement of the material which causes irregularities by alternatively hiding the details or suddenly pointing them out.
It is a constant interplay of motif, structure, material, and the permanent, although more or less pronounced, refusal of exposing all. Our gaze stumbles over the edges of paper and the fact that photographs are always only fragments of the whole.
Whether we look at her abstract weavings, whether two identical photographs or dozens are intertwined, our gaze never comes to rest. The difference between the abstract and the concrete varies by the closeness or distance we create as we step forward or backward and to the extent the artist gives admission with her ways of letting the layers interact.
This is why Brigitte Konyens photographic art keeps our gaze in constant movement while inviting it simultaneously to linger.
This specific interplay of a constant joy of looking and the complex challenge of the photographic media characterizes the artwork of Brigitte Konyen.
[© Mag. Juliane Feldhoffer, 2008, art historican, photo-theoretician]