Retour en forme
This pictorial process in which a photographic space is constructed layer by layer is likewise evident in Witek’s slide installation Retour en forme (2008) – if in a different way. She presents a total of 160 slides of 80 magazine pages which were gradually laid on top of one another. The additive principle, which is already recognisable in Die Reise der Fotografin, is strengthened by this. If there the process of photographic addition was only seen at certain points in the pictures, in Retour en forme every individual layer that is additionally applied is documented photographically. Thus each slide shows one layer more than the previous one, until finally the last layer is again the basis for the first, the one before last for the second layer and so on. As a result the construction principle is repeated in reverse order.
The figures in the original photographs have been removed. What remains visible on the slides is only the neutral background of photo studios, which now no longer serves as a spatial background for a central figure but gains in importance as an independent picture area. The original person shown can be deduced only on the basis of angular cutting and contour lines and the shadows remaining in the picture. If the slides are projected, the palimpsest-like overlayerings of the outlines of the cut out forms suggest perspectives where in reality there are none. If in the earlier image series space was partly created with actual spatial pieces, here it is constructed out of purely two-dimensional areas. These play skilfully with the viewer’s perception, because here, too, it is not possible to decode this space logically. The pictorial space evoked is subject to a metamorphosis with each freshly projected image; as a result of this, a temporal sequence is ultimately suggested, which in its montage-like extension in the already mentioned picture series is indeed alluded to, but is only consistently played out in this work. It is the photographic image construction as a concept or a temporal process that the photographer makes visible in Retour en forme.
Excerpt from “Photographs About Photography”, in Anita Witek: Originalausgabe/Original Issue, p.29
Installation View, “DLF 1874 Die Biografie der Bilder”, Camera Austria, Graz 2011
Photo: Anita Witek