The visual language of Judith Samen’s photographs
Photography plays a main role in the œuvre of Judith Samen. A reference to Eat Art and a mental affinity to fluxus are other emphases. So the artist also works with installation, drawing, video and performance. Her artwork oscillates between two states of being: stage and picture. It also refers to human states of existence. The images are strange hybrids of a classical tradition of portraiture, stilllife or interior painting. However, Samen carries the settings to extremes, the pictorial spaces become stages of everyday life, on the one hand seemingly familiar, and yet leaving enough space for the absurd to enter. It is the precisely staged, liminal area between tragedy and comedy, between real life and fairy tale, between existentialism and artifical construction that shines out of almost every work by Judith Samen, giving her œuvre its unique character.
The staged photographs show as a rule one person (very seldom more than one) mostly in an apparent domestic context, and, frequently, with comestibles of some kind. Those basic comestibles or other additional household objects take an important role in seemingly characterizing the shown figure. But instead of pointing out a precise message they are mainly used for compositional, formal reasons and so they rather tend to open a wider space of association then characterizing the figures. The images also seem to show a performative situation which implies continued action, concerning the past or the upcoming future. But the artist leaves it open to the onlooker to construct a story around each of those strange pictures. The photographs of Judith Samen plant themselves in people’s memory, there they ask frequently for the mystery of art and life.