Eine Auseinandersetzung mit Albert Anker (Exploring Albert Anker)

With its exhibition Exploring Albert Anker Galerie Weigand presents a cross-section of the various new series of works by Swiss artist Chantal Michel.

The photographs thematise 19th century rural life. In the style of the pictures of painter Albert Anker (1 April 1831 – 16 July 1910) from Bern, Switzerland, the artist stages herself as the central figure in peasant parlours or surrounded by the panorama of the Swiss Alps.

To this end she assumes different gender roles and age groups and, from image to image, chameleon-like traverses rooms and spaces which she outlines gently in an embodiment of everyday activities. Here the level between carefully setting up and lighting the scenes on the one hand, and the artist's playful interpretation of the liberties she takes on the other hand, is impressive.
In these series Chantal Michel combines a realistically arranged foreground with a painted background, reminiscent of the painted originals, as if the photographs were trying to defy being attributed to a specific era. In the photographs which are set in interior spaces this threshold between people or items physically placed and painted backdrop becomes even more blurred; the transition is irritatingly fluid.
Owing to the figures always being embodied by the same person these photographs possess a grotesque and dreamlike aspect.

The series of still lifes constitutes a seemingly surprising turn in the work of Chantal Michel as, for the first time, she makes do without any people. Here the original arrangements by Albert Anker are cleverly and subtly reanimated. True to her style the artist reinterprets the masterfully composed paintings, for example replacing one object with another and, by means of these small interferences as well as by combining real and painted picture components, creates a completely new, irritating effect and therefore, even without being part of the image herself, remains true to herself.

With this exhibition Galerie Weigand presents a cross-section of her most recent cycle of work which was created at Kiesen Castle in the Swiss canton of Bern. This castle had been empty for 25 years and, over the space of a year, the artist lived in it, furnished it, hence breathing new life into it, and it was once again made accessible to the general public through staging exhibitions, thematic dinners and performances. In doing so Chantal Michel created a wonderful dialogue between the rooms, objects, furnishings and her artistic mode of operation.

Chantal Michel was born in 1968 in Bern, Switzerland. She studied from 1989-93 in the class for ceramics at the SfG Bern, Switzerland and from 1994-98 at the Art Academy Karlsruhe, Germany, in the class of Professor Harald Klingelhöller. Michel lives and works in Thun and Bern, Switzerland.
Chantal Michel won numerous awards and prices for her work, i.e. 1994 the Aeschlimann-Corti-Grant, 1995 the Prix Saint-Gervais at the International Videofestival Geneve, 1997 the grant of the Schweizer Bankvereins, 1998 the Price at the Videofestival Locarno. Michel's work was shown in numerous exhibitions.