The artist Oskar Schmidt has been dealing with the depiction of figures, objects and spaces in his photographic oeuvre since many years. He unfailingly reduces his arrangements to the fundamental and thereby refines their performance right down to the last detail. In his current work The American Series Schmidt takes away the pictures’ colour and creates photographs in »honest« black and white. The origins of his images are either icons of photography or art history. Photographs such as those by Walker Evans that were taken in America during the years of the Great Depression in the 1930ies. As a photographer, Evans travelled through the USA within a hitherto unique documentary project initiated by the US government in order to capture the aftermath of the economic and social crises during that time and to construct a visual argumentation against the collapse the promised land of the USA.
Using a mixture of appropriation and re-enactment, Oskar Schmidt is constructing the setting of Evan’s pictures around 75 years after and re-photographs those using a large format camera. His images seem to re-capture their American relatives starting from weather-beaten wood to artefacts of a Spartan lifestyle to the dusk of the dust bowl. Yet still, the images are reconstructions in the artist’s studio. They show as studio settings that differ to their predecessors showing a variation of the arrangements or perspective and hence evoke a view unto the construction of history.
Via the repetition of historical images Oskar Schmidt disposes himself of the still prevalent promise regarding the authenticity of photography and constructs new images that can sustain their alleged original. (Thilo Scheffler)