Fan Mail: Peter Granser

For this edition of Fan Mail, German artist Peter Granser has been selected from a group of worthy submissions.  If you would like to be considered, please submit to a link to your website with ‘Fan Mail’ in the subject line.  Two artists are featured each month – the next one could be you!

Group on a Bench, 2009. Courtesy the Artist.

Peter Granser is a self-taught artist that began his career in photojournalism – allowing for a natural transition to his current practice.  Yet the depth of Granser’s on-site, immersive research is better equated to the work of an anthropologist than that of a journalist.  Using photography, Granser documents select phenomena such as the American theme park as in Coney Island (2000-2005) or an expansive retirement community as in Sun City (2000-2001).  The artist capitalizes on the specificity of his projects by aiming to reveal layers of meaning with archetypal resonance.

Portrait 18 and Portrait 19, 2009. Courtesy the artist

With recent project, J’ai perdu ma tête (2009), Granser’s intrepid curiosity led him to a psychiatric institution in France where he took part in the everyday lives of inhabitants.  As with past projects such as Alzheimer (2001-2004), Granser walked a tightrope between spectacle and measured representation of a complex condition.  His approach is to inhabit the world he documents.  For a time, Granser lived nearby and each day followed the schedule of eating, working and sleeping.  He slowly earned trust and was able to photograph special outdoors excursions, clay figures from art therapy sessions, and private rooms.  By the end of his stay, Granser was invited to photograph individuals.

Flickering, 2009, video still. Courtesy the artist.

J’ai perdu ma tête marked Granser’s first foray into video and sound, which has given the artist a new way to present his subject matter.  In Flickering, the artist examines the marriage of function and malfunction – presenting his piece in a blackened dead end tunnel accompanied by the sound of fluorescent lighting cutting in and out.  In Forest, the pleasant sound of chirping birds is juxtaposed with an increasingly smoky wooded image.  Presented rear-projected onto wall-sized plexi barrier, the video confronts the viewer with contradiction.  Granser states that he uses video to explore the passage of time ‘by using a single camera angle (like in a photograph) without any cut’.  His video work thus becomes an extension of his photographic practice.

Forest, 2009, installation view. Courtesy the artist.

J’ai perdu ma tête, will be on view from May 12th through July 2nd at the Atelier de Visu in Marseille, France.   It will also be on view at the Guislain Museum in Gent, Belgium from June through August 2012.  Kodoji will publish the project in book form in March of 2012.

Granser has been working on a new project in China since 2008, which he hopes to have completed by the end of this year.  To keep up with the artist, visit his newly launched website.