For the first time, the Gallery OstLicht dedicates a show to Ulrich Seidl’s photographic works. The exhibition includes selected stills taken from the late Nineties until today: Models, 1998, Hundstage (Dog Days), 2001, Brüder, lasst uns lustig sein (Brothers, Let Us Be Merry), 2006, Import Export, 2007, the Paradies Trilogy Liebe, Glaube, Hoffnung (Paradise. Love, Faith, Hope), 2012 and Im Keller (In the Basement), 2014.
Ulrich Seidl’s unerring eye and his instinct for composition are undisputed. His tableaus, generated with almost photographic meticulousness, provide far more than fleeting insights into the often oppressive subjects of his oeuvre as a filmmaker: composed with the greatest accuracy down to the most minute detail, their clear aesthetics and severe geometry render them convincing.
In Seidl’s photographs, objects and individuals become compositional elements in space. A precise visual order takes over here. In his stills, the documentary element inherent in his films recedes almost entirely into the background. They are defined by the character of the specific staging and the static picture’s inherent tension between aesthetics and existence. By singling out specific film frames and thereby withdrawing any action from the film, alienation – a hallmark of his symmetrical picture settings – becomes more pronounced than ever. Thus, Seidl’s uncompromising compositions work even when completely isolated from his films, and, transferred to the medium of photography, they exert profound fascination as independent works.
Especially in Seidl’s latest film, Im Keller (In the Basement), the photographic gaze of the film author and director dominates. Arranged picture by picture, minute-long tableau depictions succeed each other, the protagonists remaining almost motionless in one position. “The photography for Im Keller (In the Basement) has all the director’s style characteristics,” the journalist and author Stefan Grissemann writes. “Seidl’s visual mannerism is the trump card in each of his games: as the only element that he never leaves to coincidence, it beats any other artistic ambition which might develop on the set. There is no escaping the prison of these images.”
The book In The Basement from Ulrich Seidl ist available for sale in the OstLicht Gallery or in our Online Bookshop.