Critics’ Picks

Beate Gütschow, I#2, 2009, color photograph on light box, 35 1/2 x 26". From the series “I,” 2009.


Beate Gütschow

Admiralitätstrasse 71
January 1–March 13

“I.” That’s the title of a new body of work by Beate Gütschow; it stands for the word interior. She produces her photographs exclusively in series. The first was “LS” (as in landscape), 1999–2003, for which she assembled sweeping landscape motifs into digital collages that recall the compositions of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century paintings. In the following series, “S” (for Stadt, or city in German), 2004–2009, she collaged International Style architecture in cool black-and-white, forming fictional cityscapes that come across as sad contemporary ruins. Gütschow is adept at revealing the documentary as a construction of the gaze. In “I,” too, she pursues this implicit critique of the image. Immediately striking here is that for the first time she uses light boxes for display and returns to color photography. The new images present reduced arrangements of furniture often combined with sparse and unusual accessories. The works are as matter-of-fact as they are mysterious. Take, for example, the graphically suggestive I#1 (all works 2009), which depicts a car battery set on a kitchen counter; behind it stand a tiled wall and two hooks from which hang glaring yellow pieces of rope that stand out like signals.

With their sober stagings, Gütschow’s “I” offers something of the theatrical. In fact, this time the artist constructed her images in real space and not, as in the case of “LS” and “S,” with digital material on the computer. Several of the works make this theatrical-sculptural aspect explicit: I#2 presents two perfectly lit chairs and also directs the gaze beyond the boundaries of this staging. One sees the provisional piece of carpeting beneath the chairs, the partially painted back wall, and the lamp for the lighting. Here the stage ends right in the middle of the image.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.