Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler

At the Limits of Photography Cinematic Elements in the Work of Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler
PHILIPP KAISER Curator Kunstmuseum Basel, Museum für Gegenwartskunst

Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler's working methods are hardly different to those of a film director and not just since they have been making short films with professional actors. In their photographic mise-en-scenes and even before that in their early sculptural and performative works, this particular mode of production has been leitmotif and red thread in one. Their work operates within a cinematic context that has had a fundamental effect on art production as a whole over the last ten years. The reasons for the present appeal of cinema are many and diverse. In general terms it may be said that certain aspects of the entertainment industry are deployed by artists not least as a response to the ever greater importance of the mass media. Comercial cinema is perceived as the place where illusions and glossy images are produced, since its films by definition tell fictitious narratives. Contemporary art production makes use of these same affirmative strategies and courts the viewer's favor with its own aesthetic of seduction. For a large numbers of artists the cinema is an inexhaustible reservoir whose existing images can be manipulated, restructured and deconstructed. Hubbard / Birchler, on the other hand, have appropriated a 'cinematic grammar', that is to say they have adopted specific film techniques with which they arrive at independent pictorial solutions that go beyond precise, identifiable quotation.