Sven JOHNE (*1976 in Bergen/Rügen, GER)
Lives and works in Berlin (Germany)
The series Anomalien des frühen 21. Jahrhunderts; Einige Fallbeispiele comprises sixty-six portrait photographs of well-known and lesser-known individuals of the 21st century. The Peters-Messer Collection contains a representative selection from the series. Biographical texts accompany the portraits. They include anecdotal, bizarre, dramatic, sometimes truly tragic stories from the lives of the photographed. Both images and texts are presented in the same sized frame and hung one above the other in a close arrangement, which automatically prompts us to match each photo with an adjacent text. The series features well-known personages such as Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the pop singer Helene Fischer (not displayed here). But Edward Snowden, Verena Becker, who is a former member of the terrorist group RAF, Chelsea/Bradley Manning (whose Wikileaks revelation made the text work of Arash Hanaei possible) and Daniel Baraniuk, the world champion in pole sitting. The number of more or less well-known people, including some real “winners”, is clearly outweighed by the number of completely unknown women and men. Among these are many so-called “losers”, literal dropouts, homeless, eccentric types and people whose incredible individual fates come across as horror stories.
Sometimes one cannot avoid questioning the truthfulness of some of the stories. It becomes clear that it is not actually easy to match the pictures and textual accounts. In addition, the series of portraits is offset to the left and right, which not only leads to the impression that two texts belong to one image but also to the realization that there are apparently more images than texts. Also, when you read the texts for the first time, it becomes clear that these inconsistencies cannot be the result of the pictures and text being wrongly hung but are deliberately created in the work itself. The more one reads into the individual fates, the clearer it becomes that we are dealing here with case studies in the sense of an anamnesis of our present. The happy few, the few “winners” of the system are contrasted with a large number of renegades, conscientious objectors, unwilling dropouts from the straight-and-narrow, prescribed path to success of our neoliberal present. In the end, the combination of images and texts proves to be a highly topical synopsis, a stocktaking of what matters against the background of global and omnipresent market fundamentalism at the beginning of the 21st century. It could also be understood as a tribute to all those who have “dropped out” of the system.
Text: Peter Friese