Christoph Westermeier primarily works with rephotographed images culled from the world of commercial photography, which he assembles in installations to form new artistic categories. By deliberately referencing the context of photography, Westermeier’s work reflect – not without a certain irony and humor – both on forms of presentation or display and on the status quo of contemporary artistic photography. The two pieces Blaker and Lüster (2011) are based on Westermeier’s artistic interest in secondhand illustrated on specialist subjects. When searching for images material he is especially interested in photographs that were not primarily intended to be aesthetic. Thus he seeks out unexpected moments when something appears which, under the premise of the simple representation of an object, was overlooked as an ultimately unintended reference to the photographic process. This may be an unusual visual composition, a strange detail, blurring in a bizarre spot, or avoidable shadows or reflections of the light, for example. From this collection of amateurish photographic curiosities, Westermeier then develops his own new, photographic works. In the process, he makes creative use of the artefacts he uncovers, transforming them into new pictures by photographing them again and thus making them his own. Consequently he creates a great many photographs of photographs, which he initially compiles in a series as pure material. It is not until later that Westermeier selects specific themes and individual shots for a particular installation and then adapts them to the respective spatial conditions in terms of enlargement and hanging.

The images in the installation Blaker and Lüster are the result of a multilayered photographic process. First the artist photographed selected illustrations from two secondhand books on the history of light fixtures, made prints of the shots, and then photographed each of them again. During this transformation process of the original, already strange-looking illustrations of the luminaires from the books, Westermeier deliberately reproduced breaks and distortions in each of the images taking shape. Thus we see various additional reflections of the light, spatial distortions as well as references to the original material properties of the books. For six of the themes he selected from the series, Westermeier developed a site-specific installation consisting of two large wall objects, each one for three images. In order to hang these on a wall opposite a row of large windows he then created two huge, object-like glass frames measuring 250x160x10 centimeters. Each of the massive image media feature one large-format print in the center of the lower half and two equal-sized, medium-format photographs in the upper half. The C-Prints deliberately do not fit perfectly in the frames, and are thus slightly curled behind the glass. Between the reflective materiality of the gloss-lacquered frame with its ordinary (not antireflective) glass and the window opposite, which also reflect the light, numerous reflections, mirror images and spatial distortions appear together with the slightly convex or concave prints on glossy photographic paper. Viewers encounter these various instances of refraction in Westermeier’s wall objects as they move through the space, which is like a hall of mirrors, illuminated by daylight and neon lighting. Thus, in his installation, which calls to mind outsized book pages, Westermeier doubles the effects of reflection and spatial distortion already created in the photographs. By deliberately diverting the viewer’s eye, he prompts us to look twice and in so doing traces the reception of his works back to their original inspiration, namely the discovery of strange images that kindled his curiosity.

Published in Julia Stoschek Collection,
Number Five: Cities of gold and mirrors
Ostfildern 2012

Mixed Media Installation, 160x250x10 cm, 2011
Installation view Julia Stoschek Collection Dusseldorf, 2011, photo Achim Kukulies