At present, we can observe the viral proliferation of images relating to themes such as handiwork, nature, self-discovery, body culture, food, the outdoors and sexuality. Parallel, there is a boom in subjective, apparently exotic and autobiographical narratives. According to cultural sociologist Andreas Reckwitz, such topics can be allocated to the domain of singularisation, which Reckwitz has analysed as the central identity and distinctive topos of a new middle class. Often unnoticed, the drive towards singularisation works to bring the authentic self to bear. Central to this is the idea of a stable foundation, which is strongly tied to 'true' identity and authenticity. Both artists and the artwork often stand in as prototypes for this ideal.
The craving for authenticity, simplistically put, is here understood in the context of a globalising and digitising world – although interestingly enough, Rüdiger Safranski notes that the motif of longing for freedom, of escape from confinement, can already be observed in the work of the Romantics of the 19th century. The forest, hiking, remoteness, love, etc. here become sites of a desire that is certainly comparable to today's longing for the authentic – from baking bread in wood-fired stoves to the yoga surf retreat on Bali.
Because we understand our work within a broader tradition of appropriation, it is important for us to acknowledge that the above-mentioned themes become manifest through particular aesthetics and types of images. They are laced with specific, often-invisible narratives which are contingent, but which arise through independent discursive practices. We see our task in comprehending the 'look' and the narratives to be found in these image-worlds, both affirmatively replaying them and pushing them to a critical breaking-point, such that the images might be observed dislocated from their automatic associations.
In order to allow the mode of authenticity to flow into our practical work from the very outset, we work with analogue photographic material. The assumed authenticity of analogue photography corresponds exactly to our line of questioning. We appropriate the Pictorialism of the 19th century, as well as the experimental photographic techniques of the Surrealists: scratched negatives, expired photographic paper, solarisation and light-painting. We produce unique one-offs, giving ourselves over to the contingency of experiment – no doubt authenticity's twin double.
Metronom Gallery, Modena, IT