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German artist Peter Piller opens exhibition at Fotomuseum Winterthur
Peter Piller, From Shooting Girls, 2000-2005. Inkjet-print, 46 x 63 cm. Courtesy Capitain Petzel, Berlin © Peter Piller/2014 Pro Litteris, Zurich.

ZURICH.- In the mid-1990s the German artist Peter Piller (*1968 in Fritzlar) worked at a Hamburg press clipping service during his art studies. The service was used by regional advertising clients and companies to monitor where and how their paid advertisements appeared in print. Like Richard Prince during his job at Time Life Company (which provided the source of inspiration for his now world-famous Cowboys series), Peter Piller was drawn to specific photographs while paging through the press, which he then set aside and organized into categories, such as Auto berühren (Touching Car), Noch ist nichts zu sehen (Bauerwartungsflächen) (Nothing Yet to Be Seen (Future Building Sites), and Schiessende Mädchen (Shooting Girls). Over the years he compiled these images into his Archive Peter Piller, now comprising over 7,000 images, which the artist continues to explore by sorting and arranging the images into different series. With the exhibition Document Control the Fotomuseum Winterthur offers insights into this extensive archive.

In Piller’s work the relationship between image and text is an important criteria for selection. Although others might not see anything particular, the artist has developed a delicate sensibility of the eye that allows him to discern the hidden qualities of photographs taken for ordinary purposes. Arranged in groups and coded by titles, the found or assembled visual material is thus placed in different contexts; thus Piller also transfers the images into a different artistic order. For example, Von Erde schöner (More Beautiful from Earth) is a large installation of countless images from an archive of aerial photographs of private homes taken in the 1980s. Nimmt Schaden (Takes Damage) stems from the digital photo archive of a Swiss insurance company and is a quiet ode to the unknown photographers. With his Peripheriewanderungen (Periphery Walks)and the series Kraft and Schlaf (Sleep) we also discover something about Piller as a photographer. In his archive as well as in his photographs, the artist focuses on the realm of everyday life, adding the dimension of humorous perceptions to our profane activities and rituals.

Peter Piller—Document Control was developed by Fotomuseum Winterthur in cooperation with the Centre de la Photographie, Geneva. The two-part exhibition is taking place simultaneously in Winterthur and Geneva. Additional partners are the Städtische Galerie Nordhorn and the Kunsthalle Nürnberg. The accompanying publication, the very first collection of texts on Peter Piller’s work in book format, is being published by Walther König.

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