The German artist’s works are always composed of two photographs or more, which at first glance seem to be mysteriously connected, though their secret is not immediately revealed. Only later we do discover that they show the same object but from very different vantage points. Using a remote control, Probst activates two or more cameras pointed at the same event from different angles and distances. The gaze of the camera determines and transmits a different reality for each viewpoint, revealing the relativity of each single image. The instant is fragmented, expanded, and develops like a narrative before our eyes. This fragmentation of the instant into a series of images becomes a way to investigate the many ambiguities of the photographic image. The relationship between the photographic instant and reality is explored in two different ways, making the captured moment take on a disconcerting quality. On the one hand, Probst abandons the single gaze of the camera and divides it into various viewpoints; on the other, she multiplies and diversifies the moment of the shot. At the same time, the artist uses this method to explore the conventions and types of photography, such as reporting and surveillance, but also portraiture, fashion and still life. In the exhibition we see recent works in which these typologies establish a dialogue with each other, leading to surprising and sometimes provocative results. The itinerary starts with a double portrait of the famous twins Lia and Odette Pavlova, impenetrable and seen amidst transparent glass objects. The shift between their portraits is a small one: one looks into one lens, the other into another, and our gaze is forced to alternate between these two viewpoints. Next comes a mysterious still life in which amidst bottles, cups and fruit placed under a table we also see a hand - which raises many questions. Facing that work, we find three images of a nude, a female torso of classic beauty, seen as if through the eyes of a sculptor who looks at the model; in these images we also see the cameras, i.e. the “gaze” of the photographer. In the next room we venture outside: images made in a typical American motel by the sea, in which a solitary woman comes to terms with the landscape, hovering between inside and outside in a suggestion of mysteries, a subtle suspense in which anything could happen. The show concludes with one last work made in the studio, where portrait and still life meet in a wider, somehow metaphysical space.
Barbara Probst was born in Münich in 1964; she studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts of Münich and photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany. Currently she lives and works between New York and Münich. Her work has been presented at MoMa in New York in 2006 within the ‘New Photography’ exhibition, and she has been the subject of numerous solo shows, among others: Le Bal, Paris; Centre Pasquart, Bienne; Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Bignan; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen; Stills Gallery, Edinburgh; Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; Oldenburger Kunstverein and the Rudolfinum, Prague. Her works are in the collections of several museums including: Folkwang Museum, Essen; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Münich; MoMa and Whitney Museum, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and MoMa, San Francisco. Publishers such as Steidl, Hatje Cantz, Hartmann Books and Éditions Xavier Barral issued monograph books about her work.