Intermediate Zones of Existence

by Belinda Grace Gardner

Two women with children in the aisle of a supermarket. A group of people on a nocturnal boulevard. A woman alone in the neon glitter of an amusement arcade or before the backdrop of space-age wallpaper in the gloom of a bar.

In her photographic works Pitt Sauerwein captures moments of her own everyday reality, portraying herself as well as relatives and friends in both public and private spheres. And yet these moments seemingly recorded in passing and taken directly from real life are results of precise prearrangements where the realms of documentation and performance merge.

The authentic setting of interior and exterior spaces in which the artist is at home or moves about serves as a stage where she gives casual events atmospherically charged, ephemeral shape.

Her themes are the quiet situations and interactions in which people are present without being aware of the fact – the marginal events that are usually not registered and accordingly do not enter into the personal inner-visual archive.

In the performative (re-)creation of these intermediate and marginal moments Pitt Sauerwein focuses on the effervescent which might otherwise elude perception: the intervals in the daily course of life, the contemplative, self-absorbed states of suspension, a kind of dreamtime in the flow of existence.

With her project of (self-) observance in changing constellations and environments, which the artist drives forward as a “tourist within her own reality,” she keeps arresting the flow of time to freeze the minor, overlooked episodes through the reenacted pose as in a still life. In the process the “authenticity” of the documentary aesthetic collides with the artificial hyper-reality of the staged moment and is additionally undermined by the phenomenon that the cable release Pitt Sauerwein employs is often to be seen in the photograph, and details such as a wallpaper pattern or the ensemble of goods on the shelf of a supermarket assume the characteristics of stage props in the composition.

Her attempt to make intensely perceivable her own existence exactly in those moments of non-conscious experience while shopping, when lost in thought or reverie, in wordless togetherness or in solitude manifests itself in pictures in which the contradictions between the authentic and the stylized, reflection and fiction, individual and collective horizons are resolved.