Press release Damaris Odenbach: Modelle

Exhibition opening: Friday, 18 January 2013, 6-10pm
Exhibition runs until April 20, 2013

Photography remains the artistic medium with supposedly the greatest claim of being realistic and authentic. Despite the fact that we know very well that with only a few clicks of the mouse a completely different image can be generated, or that what seems to be a snapshot is in fact the result of an elaborate studio set-up, we are still easily tempted to trust the photographic image.

A casual glance at Damaris Odenbach's photographs gives no reason to be suspicious. We see places or, to be more precise, abandoned, run-down, uninhabited, “worn out” spaces with a certain eerie air, almost morbid. Prison cells, swimming pools, locker rooms, a bowling alley, or, as in one of the most recent photographs, a room featuring a large, free standing safe – all these places reveal traces of human life which attract us as much as they put us off. They are places which have become an indelible part of our collective memory – not necessarily as specific, concrete locations but rather as a feeling and a memory of our childhood, our youth, or of scenes from a film.

It is only at second glance that the observer begins to wonder: Isn't this door too small for the room? Isn't the way the light seems to fall rather unusual, are the tiles not somewhat too wonky? Yet the obvious suspicion that the image has been digitally altered would be a fallacy – even though the photographs have not been created using an analogue process but rather a digital one, but nonetheless in keeping with documentary photography: What we see does exist, an image.

The image in Odenbach's work, however, is not what we believe it to be. Because what, for example, appears to be an enormous factory hall is in actual fact a cardboard box – a miniature model made out of cardboard, paint and some plaster, which gives it the fine nuances and structure. It is the photograph, which turns a three-dimensional model into a flat picture, one that creates the illusion which, by enlarging the reproduction, becomes even more pronounced.

Being consistent, the artist does not present her models in the context of an exhibition. They are only the means to an end; they are destroyed once the shot has been taken, or reused. Besides the subtle irritation which guides our scrutiny, the simple titles, featuring the label “model”, and the accompanying consecutive numbering refer to the process of creation which, although not entirely hidden, nonetheless does not play a central role for the works. For what we see, in line with illusionism, are creations born out of the imagination, which move us, evoke memories, stay with us, which provide space for projections and associations – works of art which, with Damaris Odenbach, are never just limited to playing with illusion.

Sarah Waldschmitt, Kunstmuseum Bonn

In a series of new works created in 2012 and 2013 Odenbach “constructs” “models” using slides. Anonymous finds by unknown photographers are deconstructed by cutting them up, fragments are isolated and combined with elements of other slides. In this way what emerges on the small space of the slide (24×36mm) are documentary creations of the non-existent, of the constructed and the unreal which only become visible in the transition from “model” to the actual work, by means of enlargement.

Damaris Odenbach was born in Bad Bergzabern in 1977 and lives and works in Cologne. Her work has been, among others, shown at Mannheimer Kunstverein, Kunstverein Celle as well as in galleries in extensive solo exhibitions. In 2008 Odenbach was nominated for the G+J Photo Award.