23. 02. – 01. 04. 2014 Gallery G, Freiburg, Germany


The motive underlying Annette Merkenthaler’s photography is always to identify a location, determine its specific connotations and capture its atmosphere. A complex process of poetic transformation ensues. Frequently this involves ‘inserting’ photos from her nearby surroundings into another location, provoking a dialogue in a kind of artistic experimental set-up. Time is a key component. This practice could be appreciated in the gallery 2010, accompanied by a catalogue-book “Hinter den Gärten”.

In the current exhibition a room in her house, namely the kitchen, provides an opportunity for a concentrated exercise in perception; here everyday reality is condensed into poetic visual observations: we look into an oven as if it were a stage and watch Plasticine figurines dancing pirouettes, reflected in the oven door. The egg cooker obviously has a mind of its own. A saltcellar is annoyed at being forced into a dialog with a sugar bowl. The poetic charm of the kitchen sieve and the frying pan is irresistible.

The inventory of pictorial motives includes blue stacked chairs, red poppies, yellow paper, glass formations, a fly, wilted flowers – AM’s photographs play with shadow and reflections, light reflexes and bright patches to create a highly painterly effect. While objects are broken down to planes, sculptural drawings are conjured up as if by magic. Calculated mise-en-scène and spontaneity are cleverly held in balance.

At first sight, her photographs appear more simply constructed than usual; there are fewer superimpositions and distorting shifts in evidence so that the pictorial results could seem unspectacular. These are neither imagined spaces nor dreamt but very real locations, yet they are elevated into a fictive realm by being placed in a new system of coordinates. This time the metamorphosis occurs through an installation in space of two large blue picture planes depicting a section of the door and a detail of the carpet of her kitchen. These twice-altered oversize and off-colour images force time and place to be recreated anew.

Blue has always been very present in AM’s projects – there have been sky floors, narcissus- and anemone- blue, there was once a river – and now roomblue. Blue is also the colour that dissolves boundaries, allowing AM to turn a place we know well into something unfamiliar. The tension between the zoomed and the far removed is successfully mastered.

February 2014, Dr. Gudrun Selz

Translation Celia Brown