Helmut-Heiss SMOKING-1


Smoking, 2008. Helmut smokes, cold Weather, maybe early spring, or late autumn, a wooden background, forest. Dark shadows emerge on the left side of the first picture, revealing itself on the next one as a steam train, driving on the unseen, half hidden tracks behind the grass in the forefront. The photo merges the two spheres, man and man-made machine into one image, a ‘trompe de l’oeil’ folly, proclaiming visually on the first gaze, the performer would blow out as much smoke as a steam train. What appears as a visual and simple joke, is in fact not only a notion on montage and the constitution of a ‘vedute’ (the baroque tool that represents the control of sight through [landscape] architecture) through the photographic lens. It never plays tricks on the eye, or tries to play tricks on the viewer. It is a tribute to the possibility of creating something ‘just in time’, a moment that becomes a special condition – two merging, blown out materials, steam and smoke collide – in the representational space of an image, as well as on the wooded ‘set’. A blurry, more poetic than easy collage set on stage in two media spheres: smoke and photography. Both are somehow performers, the smoking protagonist and its metallic companion rushing by (like the huge truck in Stephen Spielberg’s motion picture Duel the steam train seems to be set alive by not knowing/ seeing a conductor); both ‘caught in the act’ of smoking in a strange man-machine-simultaneity.

Text: Robert Müller