Sunday, 9 February 2014

Klaus Pichler

There’s a limit to how much 1970’s black and white social documentary I can handle – so here’s something completely different. Austrian photographer Klaus Pilcher brings a humorous eye to a number of subjects – some serious, some less so but all providing insights into little known aspects of the everyday lives of some of the people around us.
For example – One Third – looks at the environmental impact of the huge quantities of food we throw away every year. His approach is to juxtapose studied commercial-style studio shots of beautifully arranged rooting food into contact with short technical captions detailing the environmental impact of their production and transport. the message is quite clear although there is, I guess, an argument that the aesthetics of the approach over-rides the message. On the other side of that argument is the idea that the double-take produced as we realise the food is rotting attracts our attention in a way that simple shots of waste might not.
Middle Class Utopia is a study of the inhabitants of some of Austria’s allotment gardens and Just the Two of Us is a study of people who like dressing up as fantasy characters in their spare time. Remember – these people could easily be your neighbour – I have no idea what my kids would make of it if I started dressing as the Cookie Monster to relax.
My favourite of the series on his website is Dust. In his project statement Pilcher says it is about:
Dust as a by product of civilisation, the enemy of a sterile society, a constant presence hidden in corners, nooks and crannies. Also, a microcosm made up of multiple components, a combination of different colours, textures and structures, a construct reproducing itself. Every bit of dust is different, each space produces it’s unique type of dust, depending on its nature and its individual use.
The captions indicate the source of the dust and in many if the cases it is then possible to imagine the sequence of actions that resulted in these small piles of debris – the khaki colours of the army surplus shop, the fabric fragments from the tailors the staples and elastic bands from the police offices – the tell tale traces of everyday life, collected and displayed for us to inspect.
While we might expect flies in the dust from a Natural History museum (why?) the presence of a dead cricket in the art gallery is vaguely surreal, and it’s obvious – but only with the knowledge presented here, that the dust in the fan-club stores of different football teams would reflect team colours.
There is quite a lot of related material around the web which i shall have to track down – complicated somewhat by another photographer of the same name operating out of Vienna, but at this stage I feel there is a clear link between all these series, which is our interrelationship with our environment, on a range of scales.
Pichler, K., n.d. Klaus Pichler Fotografie. [Online], Available at:
[Accessed 09 February 2014].

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