Remember the legendary Michael Jackson’s classic “Heal the world make it a better place” and now snap back into your reality. Cocooned in your drawing room, with your TV screen flashing war scenes from a faraway land, you stare at your inability as a passive news consumer to help the thousands of innocent lives caught in the fatal tension between conflicting forces.
As you visually scan the images from German artist Michael Schäfer’s series “Invasive Links” , currently on display at the Lalit Kala Akademi, Chennai, reality from another side of the world will barge into your sphere, which cannot be construed as happy. And that is what two of his images aim at and have succeeded in.
In one of the works, the artist has shown a group of German youth making merry on the terrace of their familiar environment while a bomb explodes in the background, depicting a Syria war scene. “It’s a confrontation of realities - one reality breaking into another,” says the German artist in an interview to DC.
The artist has a huge collection of newspaper, television, internet and media images which provide the foundation of his ideas. “I create my own version of pics that I find interesting and for that I use pics that I get from newspapers / magazines and internet. I have a large archive of media pics. Sometimes the idea will appear in my dreams and haunt me. I will go back to the images and try to see what they are trying to tell me. After that, the superimposition starts.” As the conversation segued into the contribution to the world and the role of art, Michael shares, “I always have a critical view of the world and the idea of the images always reflects the same.”
Michael’s other work gracing the exhibition hall walls features another interesting and intriguing pic of a man from the Middle East who was linked to the gruesome 9/11 attacks but not convicted. “The pic reflects racism and people’s prejudice,” explains Michael, adding how his pics “pose questions on the frame itself and the world at large.” It is to be noted here that he uses models in an attempt to anonymise the real characters from whom the ideas have derived.
And in another corner of the room will you find an image of a model on a runway - here Michael has done an exemplary job by portraying aspirations of kids who look up to those stunning models and weave dreams of being there someday. In the pic, a model graces the ramp but her face has been replaced with that of a kid photographed in studio conditions. This reflects the age of “consumer age and digital phantoms.”Another fascinating work of the artist shows a leader from a country at an international meet in Germany contemplating giving his hand, as another hand stretches out. This man with a slight smile on his face is in a position of power and is thus pondering over a gesture as that has a lot to do with the relationship between two countries.
Artists have an art of their own and Michael is splendid. The photomonteur will pick images that have floated in our minds with the blessings of the media, and reconstruct them and fuel your imagination.