Masterpieces | Meisterwerke

Masterpieces, 5 Kanal-Videoinstallation, 2009, stereo, s/w

Juliane Zelwies' video installation draws us to a micro level, right into the centre of the web of social relationships and emotional states. Not in order to solve conflicts in a utopian manner but, first, to bring them to our minds and make ourselves work on them.

We are confronted with five monitors, arranged like persons on a platform. The viewer has to step onto the platform and become part of the arrangement if he or she wants to have a look at all elements of the installation. Each video presents one famous work of art using a family therapy method to investigate the social relationships of the persons and objects portrayed. The protagonists represent the persons portrayed in the pictures as well as artists, viewers, and commissioners, even the objects and materials used in the works of art.

Simple questions pertaining to the iconography of the image result in very emotional reactions by the people involved, lead to tensions, anger, crying fits, or refusal, just to mention some of the reactions observed. "Masterpieces" triggers the outburst of suppressed emotions and unresolved or open projections.

The work of Juliane Zelwies makes us aware that each individual already is his or her own community, full of wishes and fears, with the image they have of themselves as well as the image others might have of them. A gathering of people turns into a gathering of spirits, of ghosts and shadows besieging us and pursuing us - the weight of which we can only alleviate by confronting them.

Text: Yvonne Volkart