janet grau

Freiraumnutzung: Recherchen vor Ort

Freiraumnutzung: Recherchen vor Ort

Participatory project / staged photography / public art work, 2006

In the fall of 2005, with the help of 78 residents of the town of Oschatz and the surrounding area in northern Saxony, I developed a series of four staged photographs for the work Freiraumnutzung: Recherchen vor Ort (Free Space Utilization: On-Site Research).

The images reveal the insights I gained during my extensive on-site research, especially with regard to how the people of Oschatz and its immediate surroundings perceive, use, and care for ‘nature’ – a space full of competing psychological projections, an area where varying diverse interests intersect.

On the grounds of the 2006 Saxon State Garden Show, these large-scale images were presented outdoors – in the constructed natural environment – and remained as public artworks beyond the duration of the garden show.

The images (artworks) themselves were not the only outcome of this project; rather, I consider the intangible products to be just as valid, such as the social space that was created during its formation, the conversations that took place, the interactive momentum it had, and the fact that these discussions continue to be relevant.

The very obvious staged quality and the densely arranged scenes were not (only) intended to produce a humorous effect, but rather serve as a reference to local differences of opinion and tensions. Thus, the photographs contain many details and allusions to situations that can only be understood by local residents. For example, the persons looking directly into the camera and wearing T-shirts printed with affirmative statements (‘I think that’s quite sensible,’ ‘I enjoy that,’ ‘I don’t have a problem with that,’ ‘I’m quite satisfied’) in each staged photo are references to incidents in Oschatz about which I had been told.

The work certainly has a layer of humor. This can be seen in the obvious hyper-staging and in the scenes arranged for the viewer. The humor can also be found in the details of the staging. [...] The context remains completely open – the what, what about and what with ... is left to the viewer's speculation.

Read an essay from the catalogue: Christina Töpfer, Freiraumnutzung.

This work was part of Oschatz 51,3° / 13,1°, the art project for the 4th Saxon State Garden Show. The four scenes were staged at the Oschatzer municipal park and on two farms in the area of Oschatz.

Freiraumnutzung: Recherchen vor Ort consists of four parts, two photographs at each of two locations, each 100 x 80 cm; laminated on 12 mm ESG safety glass sheets (120 x 180 cm), with stainless steel mounts on concrete foundations.

I worked with Thilo Fröbel (camera) and Robert Thiele (video, assistance).

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