One motif. 26 variations. All one-offs. „It’s me.“ is the name of the exhibition by Steffen Junghans, who sets himself apart with an unusual concept of artistic photography. Objective, large scale and aesthetic with a high standard – as usually they consist of calm and clear motives, designed for their artistic effect and commissioned with a dense universe full of context. They are no „stills“, withdrawing into a hermetic room of hyper reality in which they assert themselves as an artwork. Junghans in discourse regenerates the potential of sense within his works. The reason is factual.
It’s the smartphone. Junghans shows 13 selected views in a large scale and monolithic manner giving the promise of a brave new world of unlimited connectivity and the „must have“ of 4.0 – activists.
For Junghans it mainly stands for a digital appendix of our consciousness. To explain he looks far ahead, kills 26 specimens and devotes a fictitious obituary to them. The teachable everyday black box controls our emotions, sorts our business, knows our habits and mirrors our face in every environment and our needs in every temptation.
In advanced obedience it probes communication or is itself the conversation partner.
More than just an instrument of identification it is part of identity, with an archive that even we can’t fully grasp. Enigmatic in its function, we trust this permeable record with things, not even the best friend will learn about. This anthropomorphism, the trust and loyalty, only shows its value once it is lost.
For the death of the smartphone, its visual and acoustic silence, Junghans finds a symbolic, radical and poetic image. The burial of the digital all-rounder has been – consequently – analogue photographed. The conservative death mask of the smartphone as a staged memory photo on a wall, reduces the omnipotent companion to a simple material.
Junghans’ artistic expertise at this point reaches far beyond the motif. His photographic signature in relation to spatial staging and the evoking of effect, from humorous to sublime, continues in the curatorial.
The viewer encounters the 13 works in a rotunda style exhibition. He can experience it as a circulating carousel or find himself in a tribunal-like atmosphere, in which the viewer is surrounded by silent witnesses, confidants or prosecutors of his personal life. Like epitaphs in a pantheon the works line up in a circle of former significant spirits. Only the outer data is determinable, while the life traces keep hidden.
At the same time the show invites to pace off the motives like a portrait gallery in a museum, which only reveals its significant differences through close consideration and comparison.
The enactment of motives in front of a splendid gold background, also reminds one of icons, mystically enhanced figures elevating them to transcendental spheres. Gold, as the symbol of life metaphorically evokes a sense of admiration.
The smartphone is presented as a fictitious cultural asset on the altar of art as an image of memory. It stands for the aesthetic and iconological side. The other side is the thematic, the intimate phrase »It’s me«. It retrieves the motif into the present. Between these poles the pulling force and magic spread in a reduced, as well as overflowing show.