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14 August 2008

Martina Sauter – Discovery Award, Rencontres d’Arles 2008

The pleasure of observing, together with the emotional implications associated with the position of spectator, are the artistic focus that pervades all of Martina Sauter’s work, weaving behind her images like an all-embracing law that places the conventional view of everyday things into a perspective imbued with suspense. The artistic process used by the photographer to assign viewers (recipients) different positions – objectively by inviting them to look into a scene from the outside, or subjectively as spectators from within the scenes – or roles – as victims, villains or voyeurs, etc. – are borrowed from cinematographic practice. In fact, all of Martina Sauter’s photographic work is based on modes of seeing that go back to film work. In the process of visual perception she evokes narratives which begin with a photographic image that claims an inevitable imaginary ‘before’ and ‘after’.

This cinematographic approach, in which the individual image is understood as part of a sequence, a sequence of pictures, is a fundamental aspect of Martina Sauter’s photography, which points to the temporality of perceptions.

This narrative technique Martina Sauter uses to communicate meaning determines the position of the observer, who in this case looks onto the scene from an objective vantage-point and seemingly finds out something ‘about’ the woman and her psychological implications. At the same time, the viewer receives a certain discursive authority, an almost symbolic power over the woman in front of the shelf; by keeping a voyeuristic distance within which to observe her without embarrassment, she becomes the viewer’s object of observation. In Martina Sauter’s work, the object of visual attraction is frequently a woman; she is subjected to ‘active’ observation and endures it ‘passively’, often without even being aware of it.

She is represented by Marion Scharmann gallery, Cologne.

Artist presented by Carla Sozzani. 

Exhibition venue: Grande Halle, Parc des Ateliers, Rencontres d’Arles 2008.