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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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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 www.christiane-fichtner.de.
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?
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.
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