Bettina Pousttchi




Bettina Pousttchi

Work from Starker Staat.

“The very title and alliteration of Starker Staat( Strong state) evoke ominous associations from national security to other things. This series of photographs, taken in Cologne in 2003 and first exhibited at the Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart that same year, presents a cinematographic sequence that reinforces these alarming associations visually. The artist, Bettina Pousttchi, photographed street scenes with police intervention—probably road blocks and police controls. Then she edited these photographs on the computer such that the black-and-white photographs, which suddenly seem as vague as they do dramatic, allude to the aesthetic of surveillance cameras and their horizontal strips, which have long been familiar to us from banks, parking garages, and supermarkets as well as from Hollywood films and nightly news broadcasts. Because this group of works is always presented as a series, as a kind of horizontal (film) strip, rather than as individual photographs, cinematic chains of associations develop in the viewer’s head, recalling photographs of terrorist actions as well as filmed bank robberies or hijacking scenes. As an imaginary scenario, Starker Staatpermits an open reading, on the one hand, but, on the other, this reading always revolves around a semantic core that, as already noted, the title conjures up. It is also interesting to think of the subject of sur- veillance as a metaphor for being captured in images in the first place. Films such as Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and in a sense Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Upas well, have done precisely this. And the cinematographic sequence of Bettina Pousttchi’s Starker Staatreminds us that “the camera’s too revealing gaze,” as Susan Sontag called it, never grows tired, that it can still squint into the most remote corners and boast of its omnipotent presence. Last but not least, the fact that the artist edits her photographs on the computer to evoke the sense of surveillance introduces another aspect into the artistic game — namely, that of the cooperation of (electronic) digital technology and (chemical) photography. It is precisely the combination of computer and photo/film/ video that can make a strategy of surveillance more effective today than ever before.never grows tired, that it can still squint into the most remote corners and boast of its omnipotent presence. Last but not least, the fact that the artist edits her photographs on the computer to evoke the sense of surveillance introduces another aspect into the artistic game — namely, that of the cooperation of (electronic) digital technology and (chemical) photography. It is precisely the combination of computer and photo/film/ video that can make a strategy of surveillance more effective today than ever before.” – Raimar Stange

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