Curated by: Chiara Squarcina, Matthias Schaller
In the series Leiermann, artist Matthias Schaller develops two themes: the mirror – a source and medium for intellectual, ideal and rational reflections – and Venice – a symbolic, historical and cultural city connected to the present-day. The itinerary Schaller suggests to us therefore proposes a wide-ranging interpretation.
His photos refer to ancient mirrors located in Venetian palaces and museums, and these lead the observer to imagine, and consequently to contemplate, the number and identity of the people who have been captured in these reflecting surfaces, which in their turn create a fleeting imitation of reality. To develop this interpretative line of approach, Schaller has turned to Franz Schubert’s composition Der Leiermann, in which a poem by Wilhelm Müller is interpreted/imitated. Thus the sound re-evokes the image, which, in turn, is proposed not as an original but as an imitation in order to focus on aspects and particular thematic developments of the subject. In this way, Schaller chooses to share this interpretation so that we ponder on how the mirrors of the past convey today’s image of Venice and what they convey.
For Schaller, Venice is unable to reflect anything, because year after year its inhabitants leave the city. This personal vision leads the observer to critically examine the contexts of the mirror and the city as reformulated by Schaller, who sees them united in a latent passivity. His photos therefore focus critically on how a wonderful and fascinating context, a source of admiration, can be obscured by “absence”. The poet Müller describes the death of a man who leaves the city while Schubert’s song underlines this thought, inspiring Schaller, who in portraying the “absence” conveys the observer through a metaphorical atmosphere that generates an aura of sadness about how time transforms Venice.
In collaboration with Sonnabend Gallery, New York