Arbeitshaltung ¬ Christiane Fichtner
Christiane Fichtner „Biography“
¬ Text von Michael Schultze, Berlin 2007
deutsch ::: english
A biography is a record of the events in a life as it has been lived. It is the perfect bureaucratic form, boiling life down to those stations which are absolutely necessary for sociality. The genre of the biography plays a central role in our lives in the form of a job résumé or curriculum vitae. It transforms life into a perfect list and captures our life stories which, as condensed novels, are also somehow absent.
Christiane Fichtner’s collaborative project »Biografie« (Biography) mystifies and explores one of the main pillars of contemporary society (bureaucracy, the world of work and artistic success are all inconceivable without those brief lines on a piece of paper). Her method is to play with the problematic nature of identity itself and how it is ascribed. In her work process, she collaborates with people who specialize in creating identity. In her own words, she says:
An author fabricates a biography. A costume artist receives the text and designs the outfit for the person described. A makeup artist contributes to the work by enhancing certain characteristics. The text, clothing and makeup form the basis for a portrait staged by a photographer at a location of his or her choice. 60 people have taken part in this project so far.
In the tradition of Conceptual Art, this prompts the (often asked) questions surrounding the nature of identity, which are perhaps rather questions regarding possible ways of living in a thoroughly regulated late-capitalist society, while this process also cleverly puts the problematic issue of the author (and his or her own biography) on display.
These fictitious biographies are presented in the form of photographs blown up to near life size and their corresponding text panels. All of the photographs are of the artist and are fictions created by a collaborating team for this purpose only. As with a film production, the roles assigned by the producer (that of the author, photographer, makeup artist, etc.) work together to create a clean and perfect image of a young woman with a story that could have happened, but never did. Because all biographies and résumés are self-narrated fictions based on certifiable milestones in certain institutions such as schools, higher education and job experience, we find ourselves looking at a mirror broken into many tableaus. Every biographical moment has a possible shimmer of truth on the surface (but what does truth mean in the context of all these narrated and listed biographies?). So many possible lives, so many possible memorandums of what someone has become. Every image is a variable for what is possible. This mirror reflects almost every conceivable thing, except for one: the real life of the artist. Christiane Fichtner’s project is to critically examine how identity is created and shaped. This project does not end when the results of the collaborative work are exhibited. Instead, the play with masks goes beyond this to encompass an important value-adding measure of the art world: the artist’s biography and its appraisal. Under the guise of an artist creating fictitious biographies, Christiane Fichtner fictionalizes her own biography in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp’s modernist self-reflexivity and Conceptual Art. The development of her work as an artist is seen as part of the same game of sounding out the limits of possibility that her other works reflect, signifying the bold act of holding up her own artistic practice to reality. Possibly, there will be a last little twist in this game in which we constantly remain one step behind: Perhaps when she plays someone else for the last time (the role of herself), the artist will show us her own story of what really happened in one last artful move.