dear to me
Series of photographs, Shanghai, 2018
Pigment Inkjet Prints, 114cm x 76cm, 81cm x 54cm, 54cm x 36cm, framed
As early as 1967, Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan wrote:“ The medium is the message“. According to this premise, a central importance is attributed to the means of communication used: the medium of dissemination not only influences the news, it actually shapes them.
But what concrete effect does smartphone technology have on our communication, and how does it influence portrait photography, for example?
The artist Dagmar Keller’s interest in these questions became concrete during a stay in China, a country in which the smartphone seems omnipresent. (…)
The photographs of the series dear to me were taken in Shanghai – on the western-bank promenade of the Huangpu river, the Bund. (…) They portray people using video chat apps to transmit their image to distant places, often into their loved ones‘ living room. In the same way, the private image of their communication partner is transported into the public space via the smartphone display. The demarcation line between the private and the public spheres has become strangely hybrid in the age of globally networked activity: We see scenes (photographed in public space) that are located inside private homes and should therefore be protected from the curious gaze of strangers.
Just as these spheres are beginning to interlock, Dagmar Keller’s complex photographs also include several levels: the caller, his silhouette, his hand or his hair, is portrayed as well as the person being called, who may be many kilometers away and is nonetheless visualized in a fragmentary way, as an “ image within the image“. Occasionally, the image of the artist may be discerned as she takes the portrait. The photographs of the series dear to me, therefore are all things at once: contemporary portrait and double portrait, artistic self-portrait and selfie.
Dr. Harriet Zilch, in: News Flash, exhibition catalog, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Verlag Moderne Kunst, 2018