Self-images by artists express a desire to explore the complex search for identity while uncovering an underlying longing for immortality. In this attempt to define themselves they reveal volumes of how we, in turn, are defined by the pressures and measures of governments, businesses and institutions and how we are shaped by the personal reflections of emotions, passions and purpose.
Thomas Florschuetz explores the potential of the self-image in photographs that are freighted with angst and informed by the fear of the unknown. During his month-long residency at Light Work in September 1988 he continued to expand his investigations of the self-image that he began in 1985 as an extension of his work in portraiture. The reproduction of a page of his sketch book on the cover of this issue provides insight into his method of working and illustrates the dichotomy inherent in making art where precision and practice usually proceed the expression of emotion and passion.
Florschuetz fills his notebooks with ideas and sketches, rearranging small images cut from 35mm contact sheets from which he will construct large installations. Each piece in the sketchbook is carefully arranged and contemplated until he is satisfied that the presentation is matched with his intentions. The final pieces confront the viewer with their size. Like the artist's emotions, the images are confined but interconnected; happiness to sadness, fear to exhilaration and angst to security. Facial fragments fade in and out of focus replacing happiness with frustration. Personal icons of identity clash with universal symbols of uniformity. A film of sweat shrouds the artist's unshaven face as anxiety becomes the order of the day. The images simultaneously advance and retreat to form an emotional portrait that embodies the struggle for a personal identity in world filled with barriers.
Thomas Florschuetz was born in Zwickau/Saale East Germany and is currently living in exile in West Berlin.
Jeffrey Hoone (c)1988