Subjective Evidence | Barbara Probst

A cinematographic reading of Barbara Probst’s exhibition «Subjective Evidence» at the Kunstmuseum Luzern.

She is a photographer, not a filmmaker, but I find it interesting to suggest a cinematographic reading of her Subjective Evidence, the exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Luzern curated by Fanny Fetzer. It is a question of perspective – this being said for my reading and for her work in general. This coincidence makes of my slightly eccentric perspective an interpretative way of continuing the exercise of multiplying the perspectives in her photographic work.

The viewer of her works is pushed to explore and ponder the different perspectives of one instant and one place, even if the spatial limits of this one place are constantly “stretched”: for example, through the insertion of trompe-l’oeil photos within a photo (see the “Exposure #186: Kunstmuseum Luzern, Lucerne, 06.23.23, 12:57 p.m.”, 2023, produced for the Kunstmuseum Luzern), or the use of two and not just one “subject”(s) as cohesive reference of or for the place (see the “Exposure #106: N.Y.C., Broome & Crosby Streets, 04.17.13, 2:29 p.m.”, 2013). The variation on a theme – here being the concept of simultaneous photographic multi-perspectives – is certainly the most interesting game to play in the rooms of the exhibition. Here Fanny Fetzer proposes variations like “performance”, “landscape”, “still life”, “fashion”; what would the variation “cinema” gather or propose?

«The artist works with the cinematic technique of shot and counter-shot» – Fetzer herself remarks in reference to some “fashion” exposures in her delightful essay in the catalogue (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”). «Does the artist intend for her imagined sculpture to convey a narrative? Probst’s series create the illusion of a narrative that immediately dissolves again when the viewer recognises that the various shots show a single moment». With respect to the “imagined sculpture”, the viewer’s recognition of simultaneity makes the narrative dissolve, that is correct, but what if we imagine a cinematic narrative? Insofar as it will have a fictional force, it won’t dissolve after the recognition of simultaneity. A cinematic reading of her “exposures” ventures into the exploration of the photographic instant, a sort of narrative unfolding of the punctus, as if we could stop the flow of time and explore the frozen image – an experience that, by the way, is not new in cinema but is an essential part of its most classical repertoire of possibilities. Would this cinematic variation on her obsessive theme or concept probably be at the core of her imagination? Would her imagination be typically cinematic?

It is not so important to know how Barbara Probst actually imagines when she creates her exposures. In any case, the promenade throughout the rooms of the Kunstmuseum gave me the occasion to reflect on how the movement that makes an experience cinematic, its kinetic core (kinesis: movement), can be considered not only as effective movement of images but as imaginative movement within still images. Should Barbara Probst’s exposures be an example of expanded cinema, imploded in time, or expanded in non-chronological time?



Barbara Probst | Subjective Evidence | Exhibition | Kunstmuseum Luzern | 24/2-16/6/2024

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First published: May 15, 2024