SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is pleased to present the mid-career retrospective of German artist Joachim Schmid. The exhibition, organized by the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York and The Photographers' Gallery, London, features seven projects by Schmid that were produced between 1982 and 2007. As part of YBCA's Reality Check series, one of the three "big ideas" that guides programming for the 07-08 season, the exhibition provokes its audiences to pause for a moment to reexamine reality and regularly accepted norms.
Schmid is an artist whose work reveals a fascination with photographic history. His use of "ongoing series," demonstrates his interest of photography as an all-encompassing discourse that runs throughout the public and private spheres of modern life. Included in the exhibition is Bilder von der Straße (Pictures from the Street), a work in progress since 1982. Known as Schmid's signature series, he has selected 100 images, from a collection of 900, which range from family snapshots and ID photos to photo-booth discards from cities around the world.
These found photographs, creased, torn, weather-worn and sun faded, tell a rich history. Another body of work, Photogenetic Drafts (1991), repurposes negatives discarded by a studio photographer who cut them in half to prevent future use. From these, Schmid created photo-collages highlighting the predictability of the commercial studio portrait as well as offering a visual twist that is both ironic and unsettling. His pairing of two distinct but strangely compatible headshots explore questions of genetics, age, gender and identity. Belo Horizonte, Praça Rio Branco, which consists of a cluster of 45 photographs, is a project that started in Brazil. The black and white photos were rescued negatives found in the plaza of the same name. They were cast-offs from street photographers who produced cheap, while-you-wait ID photographs. Cyberspaces is a series of photos that Schmid made about people in the online porn industry. While capturing the screen when the subject has stepped away from the sexcam, what's depicted are the surroundings of these young women. The blown up screen shots of their working environments are low-res and pixilated, resulting in unnerving images of an "empty stage." The project is also a way of questioning the nature of authentic experience in a virtual domain. Two multi-channel digital photo installations, Tausend Himmel (2005) and Menschen und Dinge (2006) are also included in the exhibition.
Joachim Schmid began his career in the early 1980s as a freelance critic and the publisher of Fotokritik, a German photography resource. In 1987 Schmid focused on his own art making, based primarily on found photography and public image sources. In recent years, his work has taken him to the Internet
to create provocative works that reflect the future of photography in a networked, global culture. His work is included in major museum collections and he is a recipient of the prestigious Mondriaan Prize of Holland, and was awarded a Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung grant by the city of Berlin in 2004. Schmid
lives and works in Berlin.
The publication, Joachim Schmid Photoworks 1982-2007, published by Photoworks (UK), Tang Museum (USA) and Steidl (Germany), will be on sale in conjunction with the exhibition.