Ana Zoe  teenie muse kiss , Berlin 2013, 75 x 100 cm

Ana Zoe teenie muse kiss , Berlin 2013, 75 x 100 cm

Berlin based artist Esra Rotthoff's show makes use of variety of mediums including photography as well as video; simply put this is a hybrid between performance piece and soulful portraiture with the singular vehicle of exchange focusing on a kiss. Yet the show also affords the opportunity to see previous exchanges between the creator and inspiration, taking the audience along on the ride to peer through a key hole at the different facets faces and transitions of her subjects.

There is an engaging contrast inherently present throughout Rotthoffs photographs, covered in a disarming shinny magazine style package, allowing the casual viewer to be subverted covertly. Yet the anonymous air that this style imposes in advertising is here used as a hook where the true character of the subject shines through. 

For Rotthoff “The Muse”, regardless of gender/orientation is not just a pretty face to be objectified; there must be a natural personal resonance for her to be engaged, a shared history or past, physical or intellectual stimulation leading to enlightenment, and a irresistible urge to be connected in the future; an essential list of components that all the subjects share akin to a checklist of must haves.

Rather direct her subjects, in this intercourse, this time the rules are set by the object of desire as to how this exchange will take place. The muse directs/instigates the kiss and the artist present in the image becomes the object of desire. In this reversal of roles, the muse, artist and audience are put on an uneven footing as to who really controls the image, creating a new layer through which to explore the essence and nature of artistic exchange.

Simon Elson in discussing the video element of the Muse/Fling series has this to say; “The kiss videos are documentary stagings. What distinguishes them from so-called documentary fiction is the performative element, the power and  freedom of the muse to determine the nature of the kiss him or herself. Is this “unscripted reality” as defined by the trend hungry TV industry in their latest show-formats? No. Esra’s videos are good old fashioned  ‘scripted fantasies’. They are staged documents, sometimes embellished with reality, a reality that fails or leaves us with a feeling of unease."

It is up to the viewer to search for that moment of truth in the exhibit, whether the video could be considered the true document giving a before and after story layer to the performative moment of the kiss or if the frozen moment in time captured and selected is the catapult to the imagination. Either way the audience is given a new set of tools with which to explore the line between photography & video, between fact and fiction.

Esra Rothoff was born and raised in Berlin to a Turkish mother and a German father. She graduated from the renowned Berlin University of the Arts and was honored for the Meisterschüler (Phd in Art). She participated at Contemporary Istanbul 2012 with her photography after spending 2 months in a residency program in Istanbul. A selection of awards Rotthoff has received so far: Gute Plakate Prize (2011, 2012), Sappi Prize (2010), Canon Professional Award (2009),The Red Dot Award (2006, 2008),The IF-Award  (2008, 2009), 

Esra Rotthoff

Muse / Fling

18 Sep - 03 Nov 2013