Wolfgang Zurborn


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 signs".

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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Slide show
overview of the photographic work



Mitten im Westen

China! Which China?




Terra Incognita

dressur real

Missing Pictures

In the Middle of the Speed

In the Labyrinth of Signs

Photo Walls Neumarkt

People Pictures - Picture People

Front Garden of Illusions



list of all exhibitions
















        In the Labyrinth of Signs #13, 1992