MARIANNE MUELLER: “Because the Pictures I See Don’t Exist” (2008)

By Marianne Mueller, The Proper Ornaments, Edition Patrick Frey, Zurich, 2008

I am interested in fundamentals, in the conditions and constraints of being. Vulnerability, the everyday, banality and intimacy. Peripherals. Abstraction, energy. • What happens to things, to the shadows of trees on a wall, to pennants fluttering on a parking lot, to the sound of pigeons beating their wings on my roof – all those miracles, those serene moments – what happens to them when I record them, when I isolate them to reinforce their shape and make a space for them? Don’t I just deprive them of context and therefore of substance?

Bodies are curious. Sometimes they don’t match up with people, I find that unsettling. Some people seem to use them, other people seem to live in them, and others are not at home in them. • Body and clothing. Clothing is important, clothing as protection and shell. Pleating, plied, multiplied and repeated. Presence – absence, body – soul. • Nudity as clothing? Skin as an incorruptible teller of stories. Where an entire life is stored. • Things or bodies attract me when they have an aura while alluding to opposites as well – banality to the sublime, modesty to the heroic or glamorous. A purpose against the background of purposelessness. • The periphery, the sidelines contain the core – do margins and places on the fringe automatically shift to centre stage through focus?

The object calls for detachment but still intrudes. It seeks its place and ends up in between. • Formal casualness, emotional precision? • I like the perfection that can be extracted from chance, the universes that can be created by joining fragments up in sequences, blocks or series. Sensations that have nothing to do with psychology. Simple images with little information content, the taste distinctive and idiosyncratic. Dry, elegant, offbeat and profound. • The longing to find congruence between the emotion of the moment and the developed picture spawns doubt. • Space and intimacy. Intimacy, above all an engaged view of disengagement. Call it a transient state of impenetrable empathy. • Photography is a language. A writer writes a story and generates images by choosing words, placing one after the other, conferring structure and meaning by writing sentences, constructing chapters, adding titles – photography works that way, too, but without words. • Memory develops the seeing of photographs. Taking pictures as a means of thinking about photography. Photography as a poetic device. Photography because the pictures I see don’t exist. This shortfall is the point of departure. • Archives: a curious order. Everything fits, everything can be combined. The photographs, drawings and video stills in this book come from my archives. The passing of time leads to liberal forgetting. I rediscover pictures I hadn’t noticed before, pictures that now strike a chord as I gaze without purpose and without memory, a gaze that finds while not seeking – as if one’s own gaze did not develop. It is the view of the gaze that develops. • Nothing is certain and predictable. There are those piles of pictures, jumbled up in disarray, sources from which I extract and eliminate. • Hundreds of experiments, how can they become visible? • Pictures meet and form a sequence, without the need for linear narrative. Movement is introduced. Every picture has a neighbour. They may know each other well. They may barely be acquaintances. • Using accident to prevent the work from being accidental. • Tension is pre-emption and agitation. The greater the opacity and deceleration, the greater the tension. • The seeking, finding and inventing of images is governed by the law of patience. • The pencil traces the edges of boredom and gives it a personality. • Montage as a means of deconstruction. It generates nonsense, grotesquery and humour. It is always a condensation of atmosphere. • Ornament. When the narrative yields to the decorative. • Combine. Generate friction, invest energy, invert and duplicate pictures. I injected drawings to make the reading of the photographs change direction. Lines, contours and planes step into the foreground. “The Proper Ornaments”.

The Proper Ornaments.
Photographs by Marianne Mueller. With texts by Bice Curiger, Martin Jaeggi, Marianne Mueller.
Patrick Frey, Zurich, 2008. 160 pp., 131 color and black & white illustrations., 7¼x10¼”.

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(© Marianne Mueller, 2004. All rights reserved. All images © copyright the photographer and/or publisher)

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