Sophie Tappeiner, Vienna

Revolving around the construction of self in the conflicted space of representation, the multi-layered photographic interventions by Sophie Thun complicate the relationship between the imaginary pictorial space of the image and the real space of the viewer. By revealing the sites, mechanisms, and performances inherent in the production of the image, Thun breaks its seamless illusion, honestly documenting the performance of its construction. Images, like self-representations, are not objective representations of reality, but tricky, superimposed, staged processes, that develop over time.

Utilizing the effects of mise-en-abyme and trompe-l’oeil in her—often site specific—work, the artist portrays herself in the act of taking her own picture. Her stance is firm and wide. In her hand, she holds the camera’s cable release, permitting her to inhabit the role of artist, producer and performer. Pointing the camera at herself, Thun draws awareness to the camera’s violence, a “sublimation of the gun” as Susan Sontag wrote, and to the violence of the gaze perpetuated by it.

In her photograms we see imprints of the artist’s body produced in the darkroom, the second and otherwise invisible site of (re)production. Using a horizontal enlarger on tracks to project the 8 x 10″ negatives, Thun presses her body up against the undeveloped paper for the duration of exposure, blocking the light from hitting the surface. The presence of the artist’s body creates an absence in the image, an absence relating to the incapability of capturing the human body on a two-dimensional surface. Even in this very direct transfer, the imprint or photogram fails to represent the living, breathing, and feeling body. Only a mark remains.