JAKOB
SCHNETZ

A REINDEER AND A BURNING OIL CAN (2017)

In times when opinions and attention are fought over, pictures play an enormous, complex and reciprocal role, almost needless to say. They shape our conceptions of the 'world', our expectations towards the supposedly familiar as well as new, and thus also how this can then be perceived and described. Hence, images create and consolidate categories of perception, at the same time characterized by 'image socialization'. Attention is being paid to this interplay of visual representational practices in order to invite people to reflect on the boundaries of what is sometimes used and understood as a ‘documentary’ or ‘realistic’ medium.

The setting for the series offers the city of Yakutsk in the far east of Russia - the coldest city in the world. Solely this superlative creates images in the mind, images of the cold, the exotic, maybe even the archaic. Images that have been firmly anchored in Western European-socialized minds for decades, be it through books, the focus of political news under the renewed East-West hardening or travelogues by adventurers seeking the extreme. The photographic series tries playfully to pick up on Western clichés of Russia, such as militarism, fur, violence, improvisation or cold, but their 'authenticity' remains unclear: the mixing of stagings and 'documentary' supposed everyday observations, which however, is not marked, provokes asking the viewers of the photographs which images they consider credible - and why. At the same time, the deliberate use of staging in addition to the creation of irritation also serves to question the realistc understanding of photography. A search for clues between fiction and supposed reality, at the limits of credibility of 'documentary' photography.