Ingrid Bartel – staged photography as „tableau vivant“
What Ingrid Bartel would like to achieve with her photography is the presentation of an artificial aesthetics, which allows a view into her inner pictures. That way, she creates photographic realities, which she wants to project outwards, using her subtle imagery. This artificially created reality does not at all want to make a claim of representation with reference to reality. Her created imagery doesn’t even want to question the truthfulness. The base for the quality of this photographic work is an excellent feeling for composition and surfaces. Quite often Ingrid Bartel uses the technique of tableau vivant, which means the presentation of a situation by the help of living persons out of an inner picture. The tableau vivant is a display of bodies, which will proof their capability of adaptability by being disguised in props. This way the human body is not part of an action but rather of an artificially created moment. By the use of staged photography as tableau vivant, pictures, which come to breathe, are created. New pictorial spaces are created by the help of these artificially created moments of poses. An artificially created reality is the connecting element of the four workgroups in Ingrid Bartel’s photography.
In her workgroup of presentations, Ingrid Bartel wants to bring the attention to the very moment, which will fix a subtle image content in an arranged situation. Those visually gathered elements within that often theatrically arranged imagery create a tension arc between hint and clarity, attraction and dislike, and furthermore between harmony and the dramatic. Her detailed and conceptual language of images reveals the influence of a surreal imagery and thereby it depicts her own emotional world. The persons, who are often represented in movement, communicate tranquilness and immobility, which seems unsettling. By the use of a cool coloration, this atmosphere is even strengthened. Individual things are getting into focus in order to underline the drama of the theatrical scenery. Again and again, mirrors and reflections, that distort the space, are used as part of the presentation. Morbid empty houses or a derelict castle are used as locations of the staging. By the use of the photographic act of the image formation, the photographer’s inner pictures are made visible.
For more than ten years, Ingrid Bartel’s photography has been engaging explicitly with the topic “woman” and her role in society. This artistic work is about identity, presence, visibility and readability, but also about the context, in which being a woman happens and is perceived. In this process, series are created, which are mostly working side by side as triptychs. Due to her age, the photographer represents the generation between the feminist avant-garde of the 1970s and today’s feminist art. Her portrait style positions itself at the interface between artistic and fashion photography. Often her work is being shaped by a surrealistic visual language with a fantastic note, which achieves to convey a certain atmosphere by the use of strong light-shadow-contrast.
Overlays and multiple exposures build the base for the settings and the tension arcs of Ingrid Bartel’s flower images. Reminding of Robert Mapplethorpe, who was able to present floral still lifes in the way of erotic subjects, Ingrid Bartel is playing with the moment of deconstruction within her work. It is a process of creating sculptures, which allows new objects to be created, depending on blossoms and seasons. Each poppy is different and will be newly arranged again and again. As well as nature will never create identical things, something new is created by differently arranged blossoms. Something immortal is built, even if the process of decay has already started. Thus, the act of withering is paused and stopped through the act of photography.
Characterized by the photographic perfectionism of one Walter Peterhans, who arranged his works perfectly and who’s clear image structure and exact lighting are the main inspiration, all still lifes are being set into scene. With regard to the playfully artistic handling of the photography in Bauhaus style, Ingrid Bartel’s still lifes showg their very own reality. Materiality, composition and form are at the focus of her photographic interest in this series of works. Light and shadow, as well as a very pointed color composition are shaping her style and make the photographs reminding of paintings of the New Objectivity.