Christiane Fichtner

Archivtexte Archivtext April 2006
      ¬ Christiane Fichtner, Bremen
¬ Biography
      ¬ deutsch ::: english


Part I of the Project (completed in 2005 in Germany)

Since 2004, I have been commissioning people to write a biography for Christiane Fichtner. The writers are given only 2 details around which to create a narrative: The date of birth of 25 May 1974, and the current occupation of artist.

The finished biographies are given to a costume or fashion designer, who then designs the clothing for each narrative. I am then photographed in these outfits by different photographers. The photographers choose where and how they want to do the shooting.

In the first part of the project, nine photographs measuring 2 x 1 meters (large-sized prints on aluminium plates) were created. I have presented the photographs at different exhibits. Each photograph is accompanied by a biographical narrative describing the life of Christiane Fichtner. Each picture shows Christiane Fichtner as a different person that corresponds with her biography.


The Combination of Text and Image

In this project, the powerful function of representation inherent in language is revealed. Language gives things their names. Name giving can hide or maintain meaning, bring things closer together or cover them up. Name giving is what allows us to analyze these representations.

The artwork begins in the moment when the name giving takes place. Language points to the object it names, but it is the beholder who must decide what is being signified and the validity of the name giving.

Every biography represents the idea of an imagined life.


Point of Departure

Whenever I am talking about myself, I find it slightly confusing. I stumble on the same old paradoxical question again and again: "Who am I?" Of course, no other person in the world knows so much about me as I do, or could tell as much about me.

But when I tell someone about myself, it is impossible for me as the person doing the telling not to influence and restrict my narrated self through certain factors such as my emotional characteristics and my perspective as an observer. To what extent does the "I" talked about by me correspond with the objective facts? This is a question that has always fascinated me.

In the conceptual work Biography (Biografie), the question of "who am I" is reflected in the dialogue between the different standpoints. These standpoints also pose the questions: "Who am I to other people?" and "Who will I become through the interpretation of others?"

This concept is also related to the theories of the French psychoanalytist Jacques Lacan, who has said that the subject constitutes itself through the gaze of the other.


Part II of the Project (2006 in Vienna and New York)

The first part of Biography was created by people who know me. In the second session, I will be working with people who don't know me. This means the people who, like the writers in the first part, are commissioned with writing a biography for me don't know the person they are writing about. They can only gain information about me by forming a short impression while talking with me personally or from the first group of biographies accessible on the webpage

I am currently cooperating with writers in Vienna, and three text-image combinations will soon be made available. I have also contacted authors in New York and am planning for an additional three text-image combinations to be done in the summer of 2006.

The object of research (portrait and self-portrait, the question of projection, cliché, and interpretation) will change due to this new point of departure. The degree of fiction will most likely be greater for those involved. The question is whether or not this will be noticeable in the results. Can a person collect any amount of biographies if they use the "right" professional methods?

How will the cooperation between the artist and those involved in creating the biographies change? How will each author perceive the fictionalized artist Christiane Fichtner? How will each costume designer interpret the figure of Christiane Fichtner from the biographical narrative?

The nine large-sized photographs and biographies from the first part of the project will be displayed together with the new photographs and biographies in the second half of 2006.


Part III of the Project (2006-07 in Korea and India)

I would like to continue the project in 2007 with a third series of biographies and photographs done in Asia with the support of a grant.

In the third part of Biography, I will be working together with people who don't know me and who have been socialized differently than previous partners. My main interest in continuing the project in Korea and India lies in exploring whether or not different Asian mentalities will produce different biographies.

I am interested in looking at the juxtaposition between the occidental concept of "to know yourself" and, for example, the Indian way of perceiving the self as metaphysical, and not biographical, and therefore not bound by time or space, but free from the historical-biographical dimension.



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