Moved pictures – moving pictures
Fotostiftung Schweiz presents works by Ruth Erdt NZZ / Neue Zürcher Zeitung November 2010 / by Philipp Meier
What may sound like a play – «Die Lügner» (The liars) – is one indeed: somewhat of a family drama, implemented in photographs by Ruth Erdt (born 1968). Since a good 25 years the artist from Zurich documents people from her closest living environment. Whereas the term «documentary», may fall too short in her case. As an artist, the photographer takes the liberty to go much further than that with her work. It’s not about a realistic picture of her own world. She rather finds the material for her fictional, interpersonal stories in privacy and trust among her family and friends. These stories are captured in her pictures–sometimes moved and set to music. Ruth Erdt considers thereby photography as an extremely suitable form of fiction.
Exposure and indefiniteness
The latest work of Erdt’s strategy is now presented by the Fotostiftung Schweiz as the newest result of its securing of evidence of the Swiss photography scene. The work with the title «Die Lügner» dates back to an earlier piece, which Ruth Erdt presented in 2001 by the name “The Gang” in form of a publication. Erdt’s children, her partners, friends, strangers, animals and the photographer herself occur in that family saga in the broadest sense. Some of those protagonists are now also acting in „Die Lügner“.
Loosely hanging pictures in colour and black and white in different formats build a prologue to the central installation of the show: The 10-minute double projection, that seems to be a continuous flow of pictures. Apart from the acoustic environment, composed by Marc Zeier, this installation lives mostly from the clever combination of the pictures: Strong, moving impressions are made, which slowly condense into a story of interpersonal emotional worlds. Adolescence and aging, tenderness and violence, safety and loneliness are mentioned. However, a specific reference to the reality of the shown protagonists stays out. Ruth Erdt’s exposures of privacy slide continuously into the indefiniteness of fiction. Her attention belongs much more to the unsaid than to the directly shown. This probably also explains the title of this work.
all © erdt
I was around 12 years old when i imagined a camera. This camera I conceived was attached to my head, could be used any time and ‘took pictures’ when I wanted it to, and from the angle I chose. The focus of that apparatus was outside me.
I myself was often depicted in those first pictures. My aim was not so much to see, as to ‘feel’ an image. Somehow the moment when I pressed the release was extraordinary, a faltering in the course of the day, a deceleration, a dead point that engraved the image on my brain. These initial self-portraits were then joined by new images of objects bathed in a mysterious light, or images of people I wanted to get in contact with, to whom I felt somehow bound. There were no restrictions, just the compilation of a huge archive of imaginary images.