Stefan Altenburger, Camilla Berner, Josh Muller, Peter Welz, Edwin Zwakman
28 October – 1 December, 1999


The Spencer Brownstone Gallery is pleased to announce a group exhibition entitled Absence. This exhibition will include works by European artists Stefan Altenburger (Switzerland), Camilla Berner (Denmark), Josh Muller (Germany), Peter Welz (Germany) and Edwin Zwakman (Netherlands).
We define absence as a lack, a nonexistence. Whenever we speak about an absence, it is usually in reference to someone, or something whose presence as been removed from us. The lack of or removal of this presence, often sets up a secondary visceral response, the longing for that which never was or is no longer there. To miss someone is to discover or feel their absence. Absence makes the heart grow fonder…
Of course the flipside to this is that in attempting to fill the void of an absence, imagination becomes a partner in creating a presence that suits a personal requirement. In the end, the quality of absence itself allows for the definition of presence. Read between the lines…
The works in this exhibition are inspired by things that are missing, or appear to be gone. There is a dialogue set up by the artists that accentuates the desire for a whole story, but allows the viewer to articulate it. It is the viewer's inference upon what he sees that completes the picture.
In The Walk, Stefan Altenburger's video plays on conditioned responses. Taken from a popular video game, Altenburger's protagonist wanders through the woods, snow falling around him. The anticipation is that a violent encounter may occur at any time, but it never does. What one recognizes as a familiar set up for a competitive (albeit playful) challenge is changed into a hypnotic, meditative and introspective excursion.
Camilla Berner begins with pictures from tourist postcards and advertisements that are very familiar and then removes the focal point. Only an outline remains of the main subject. The wall insulates itself into the picture, instigating a tug between the ethereality of memory and the solidity of the here and now.
In Josh Muller's photographs, figures are seen walking into or out of a body of water. Shown in various stages of entry, much of their anatomy may be submerged or missing. Constructed from found material taken from advertisements, travel catalogues, etc., Muller creates models and then photographs them, returning the subject to its original state, yet displacing them from their original context.
Peter Welz's video begins with a repeated action. Shot vertically, a person bangs their head against a wall of a very narrow vestibule. The person is contained within the space, and the recurring movement, seemingly a reaction to it. The image however, is viewed horizontally, completely shifting the tome of the piece. Once the body is flipped, it appears weightless, bobbing rhythmically against gravity.
Edwin Zwakman will exhibit new photographs inspired by the urban Dutch landscape. Constructing moquettes that are later recorded with the camera, Zwakman continuously experiments with how much the viewer will recognize with the least amount of information. He purposefully chooses not to add a lot of detail to his constructions and alters scale to enhance effect. As a result, even when the strangeness of the moquettes insinuates the photograph, our personal inferences cause a reconstruction of them. Slowly, the process of interpretation that suits our experience becomes apparent.

Artist Bio

Participating artists include:
Stefan Altenburger, Camilla Berner, Josh Muller, Peter Welz, Edwin Zwakman