From January 30 to April 11, 2010 the Württembergischer Kunstverein
will be showing the first comprehensive solo exhibition by Cologne artist Bettina Lockemann (born 1971).
With their unspectacular gesturing, Lockemanns works particularly stand out within contemporary photographic art. The high pictorial quality, the complexity of content, and the precise conceptualization characterizing her works attest to a well-reflected treatment of both the aesthetic and theoretical parameters of photography.
In her elaborate series, the artist pursues various explorative questions relevant to society. She pinpoints urban situations, global structures, constructions of the other, politically defined spaces, or scenarios of control and surveillance. Here, the investigation of relations between image and reality always takes center stage: Which projections and expectations tend to influence our perception of reality? In what ways are these projections inscribed in pictures? Or rather, how can theses projections be undermined by pictures?
Lockemann avails herself of documentary aesthetics, that is, of a pictorial language that we are tempted to interpret as a neutral and veritable representation of reality, even while being aware of its malleability. It is precisely from this point that the artist sets off to consciously mislead the viewer, as is apparent, for instance, in the series Code Orange (2003). This series shows black-and-white photographs of the streets of Washington, D.C. and New York City where the vacuity of interchangeable urban situations intersects with allusions to surveillance and control. Views of blockades, vans, helicopters, and persons are arranged in such a way as to imbue the viewer with a sense of experiencing secretive conspiratorial operationsor a Hollywood film set.
Thematized in the photo series Contact Zone (2008), shot in Japan, is the scrutiny of the other. Here, in lieu of confronting the viewer with documentation in keeping with conceptions of the other, Lockemann instead evokes ones own culture, which is easily overlooked when focusing upon that which is unfamiliar.
In most of her works, Lockemann is surveying public urban spaces. The series EP/2006/K (20062007), in contrast, was captured in interior spaces: in the hallways, conference rooms, or office spaces at the European Parliament in Brussels. Althoughor precisely becausethe photographs depict the inside of the administrative apparatus, they reveal and illustrate its impenetrability.
The artists most recent project, Undetermined Terrain (2009), came to life over the course of several different visits to Istanbul and Ankara. At the fore of her urban excursions in Turkey was a desire to explore the vestiges of change as well as the question of the presence, or absence, of tangible boundaries between Asia and Europe. Here, the eye trained on urban structures is frequently shifted through the emergence of people, vehicles, or buildings.
In addition to photographs, the exhibition is also introducing several video works by the artist, including Border Patrol (2001), a work comprised of three projections in which various border zonesin the sense of invisible borderlines and urban interspacesare pictorially circumscribed.
Many of Lockemanns images portray vacuous, interchangeable urban landscapes where the few visible people appear as were they mere staffage. Yet the artist is not only intent on showing modern cities in their facelessness. She moreover brings the faceless into play as a screen of projection, thus exposing images to be read.
After pursuing professional training in photography, Bettina Lockemann attended the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig from 1994 to 1999. In 1995 she founded the Büro für Bildangelegenheiten (Office for Image Affairs) together with Elisabeth Neudörfl. In 2007 she completed her dissertation, entitled Das Fremde sehen (Seeing the Other), which takes up the European view on Japan in contemporary artistic documentary photography (published by Transcript Verlag publishers in Bielefeld). Since 2007 she has been teaching artistic photography and art theory at institutions of higher education in Stuttgart (Merz Academy, Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design), Leipzig, and Zurich.
Lockemanns works have been exhibited at various venues, including the Nederlands Foto Instituut in Rotterdam (2002), the Fotomuseum Winterthur (2001), and as part of the International Photo Triennale in Esslingen (2004) and the International Photo Biennale in Rotterdam (2000). She has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, two of which being a German Institute for Japanese Studies Scholarship (2006, Japan) and a Fulbright Scholarship (2003, USA).