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Supermodel

  • Exhibition

  • January 15, 2000 - June 5, 2000
  • Galleries

Since its beginnings, photography has been thought of in contradictory terms. Initially, people believed that a photograph was a real document of the world, a mirror image captured on paper. After all, unlike painting and sculpture, photography is a mechanical process. However, photography is also the product of human imagination. The artist controls what you see in the final photograph, from the choice of film and lighting, to the pose, composition or angle in the shot, to choices made during the development and printing. Contemporary photographers often use this inherent contradiction between art and document to challenge our belief in photography’s truthfulness.

The nine artists in Supermodel (Miriam Bäckström, Oliver Boberg, James Casebere, Miles Coolidge, Thomas Demand, Martin Dörbaum, Alexander Timtschenko, and Bernard Voïta) used this contradiction in a very specific way: they photographed architectural models and fake buildings. These pictures not only documented the “fake” structures that existed before the camera’s lens, but also convinced us that we were looking at “real” buildings. They were truthful about the object’s existence, but deceitful about the size, material, or place in which it appears. In these photographs of architectural models, film sets, commercial reconstructions, and computer designs, photography presents itself as a medium that can be both fiction and non-fiction at the same time. They remind us of the tenuous and often superficial line between the factual and the imagined.

Miles Coolidge, Commercial Building, Capitol, Highrises (Safetyville), 1994

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