In the Labyrinth of Signs
1991 - 1993
In the Labyrinth of Signs #14, 1992 In the Labyrinth of Signs #24, 1993
Riddling Imagination - Incisions in the world of everyday myths
For more than a decade, Wolfgang Zurborn has investigated
the relation between photography and public space, while not
trying to depict urban landscapes objectively, nor investigating
human behaviour the way a journalist would. Rather he has
posed a philosophical question by means of photography: How
far is it possible for a subject in the digital age to attain
individual cognition and performance in an everyday public
context? Everyday worlds and the worlds of images dialectically
merge in the subject's mind: views of the perpetually changing
Lebenswelt are unrecognizably bound to the omnipresent pictures
from the mass media.
...In the "Labyrinth of Signs", Zurborn puts this
concept to its hardest test yet. His method of compressing
disparate perspectives onto one picture plane and stressing
the diversion of motives by a decentered composition is carried
to extremes in the vertical photo-combinations. The aesthetic
value of perspectival individuation can thus fully unfold
and reveal the visual dissonance of today's public space.
The radical cut-outs of the super-mounted photographs intensify
the network character of these works. Every partial picture
has a sensual artery of sharply focussed and blurred zones.
Their particular degrees of abstraction create a subtle balancing
act between the free act of associative view and the undeniable
reference to social reality. In the situational single pictures
of the series "Menschenbilder - Bildermenschen"
(People Pictures - Picture People) the contingent scenic context
is maintained through sophisticated eccentric compositions
and, at the same time, fractured by countless indications
beyond the picture's edge, the off. In "Labyrinth of
Signs" the alleged coherence of the world, the supposed
unity of space, time and place has been basically shattered.
The fragments of everyday perception have been reduced to
the limits of recognizability. At stake is the identification
of each fragment and the exploration of its contextual importance
by the viewer. Zurborn: "The materials, planes, colors
and lines acquire the character of strange signs, become part
of a visual riddle and start to interact, beyond theboundaries
of the particular segments. The meaning of this riddle is
that there is no solution. Photography produces a maze of
What is staged is the confrontation of the carefully searching
eye with the multi-contextuality of the world and its perpetual
transformation as well as the genealogy of the photographic
gaze this side of the tautological clichés, an inventive
view that challenges the viewer to a productive completion.
The virtual scenery in which things meet or collide is no
longer outside the photographic view, not in any given order,
but is grounded in the perceiving imagination of the subject.
Wolfgang Zurborn's photography sees itself as the medium
of an active process of understanding that corresponds to
the dynamics of what, in the end, is uncontrollable about
public space. Glassy see-throughs, rough superimpositions,
irritating distortions, massive blocks and porous crevices,
low-key transitions and daring leaps, seeming insides and
tricky outsides, semantically balanced conglomerates and more
narrative-oriented collages - the compositional range of the
"Labyrinth" works is broad, in order to capture
the experience of today's everyday perception in its living
complexity and its rapidly accelerated change.
Peter V. Brinkemper
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