My interdisciplinary practice explores the concept of ideology within different historical, political and socio-cultural contexts.
Having grown up as the daughter of parents who were born during WW2 in Germany, and whose parents had fought in the war, my upbringing was marked, on the one hand, by a familial silence on the traumas inflicted by it, and on the other, by a nation’s collective burden of guilt, which manifested in an educational system that sought to instill in us an ever-present awareness of the specter of history and the atrocities committed during the Holocaust.
As a result of this complex heritage, a question has emerged at the heart of my research and practice: what is ideology and how has it been used in the past and present to legitimize a dominant political power? How does ideology (re-)produce and circulate meaning that consolidates into a system of beliefs regarded as natural and inevitable? How does it shape space, and how it is manifested in space?
My search to understand the concept of ideology is invariably tied up with a politics of visuality: who has the power to see and who is seen?
Within this broader framework, I am particularly interested in the photograph as a central tool of the semiotic creation of ideology as well as its transmission. The use of the photograph as an official document in historical, legal, government, corporate or personal archives is closely tied to our still largely unchallenged understanding of the photographic image as a purveyor of truth, dealing in documentary evidence. At the core of my practice lies an urgency to shake these established certainties and to examine the ideological role of the photograph in shaping our relationship to the past, present and future.
During my past research, several areas of focus have emerged: Eurocentrism in the wake of the migrant crisis and build-up to Brexit, bureaucracy and fascism, warfare and surveillance, and, most recently, scientific discourse on invasive species and extinction.
I often begin work on a specific project by assembling vast collections of images and text from a variety of sources. These sources include office furniture catalogs, US military tactical manuals, museum and newspaper archives, encyclopedias, books on warfare, and art and design history.
After scanning, juxtaposing, manipulating, and re-printing them, the resulting works are assembled and displayed as photographic couplings, as mixed-media tableaus on archival display tables, or as vast installations that play with and subvert archival logic and institutional display strategies to disrupt any singular, dominant reading. Instead, they challenge the viewer to pay attention to the in-between spaces, and the multiplicity of non-linear, often conflicting narratives contained within them.
The image worlds produced in my work seek to question the limits of representation, and highlight the inadequacy of language and image to tell us the complete story; they pursue doubt as an open, constitutive space from which to forge a counter visuality as a potential incubator for resistance.