September 2011



ProjectB presents in Milan, Disportraits, solo exhibition of German photographer Matthias Schaller.

On show are six works from the series, perfectly representative of the artist’s stylistic approach, focused on the theme of “portrait variations.”

Exploring the relationship between appearances and reality, Matthias Schaller never portrays people directly, but rather captures what they feel, the historic moment in which they live, or the physical space that they have occupied. Portraiture is thus emptied of its subject, with the resulting absence filled with historic and artistic references.

With evocative vision, the artists explores the correlation between distance and space, and between presence and absence, using those concepts to delve into the human condition by looking at two landmark moments in history: the 1969 moon landing and the revelations of Sidereus Nuncius, a 1610 treatise by Galileo Galilei containing revolutionary observations on astronomy. Schaller rediscovered the work thanks to a publication by Horst Bredekamp, which reproduces Galileo’s own original artistic drawings of the moon phases.

Disportraits is developed within this poetic framework, with central focus placed on space. On the one hand we have humans, who by nature won’t be limited, whose ineluctable destiny it is to grow and imagine, to the point of creating entire worlds that do not exist, and pushing past the boundaries of the earth into space. On the other, Schaller investigates the power of what is left behind, and how people that have inhabited a space (whether it is a building or clothes) leave behind a silence which remains the indelible mark of their presence for a long time beyond.

The prefix dis paired to the term “portrait” conveys a lack of something. The astronaut suits—used in Russian and American space missions and owned by a collector in Milan—are actually empty. The impression of movement is imitated by the different moon phases digitally imposed on the helmets and given by the use of the different perspectives from which the photographer, himself moving around the subject, has taken the photos.

“I believe the astronaut suits are a metaphor for human beings. By using the suits I can demonstrate that we are all astronauts, all alone and isolated from one another. And we are all seeking, through both verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, to make contact with each other, so as not to feel alone. Every individual is a space with its own rules, its own history, and its own relationship with the space outside.” Matthias Schaller

Schaller’s work thus has a historic dimension to it. He is not interested in the individual. Disportraits is a portrait of the shared dream of a humanity that has already been to the moon.

Info: Matthias Schaller ecxt