Participatory work from 1997 to 2010. Contributions of Dr. Rita Tauber, Dr. René Hirner, Kurt Laurenz Theinert, Ricarda Geib and Simone Young, translations of Rebecca van Dyck.
The media artist Wolf Nkole Helzle has been working unwaveringly on expanding a unique archive since the mid-nineties. Whether in Europe, Africa, or Asia - whether at an art exhibition, in a church, or on the street - in all these places, a chair, a lamp, a black background, and a camera have invited guests, visitors, and passers-by to participate in a photo shoot.
He did not produce full- or half-length portraits, but rather closeup photographs of people’s faces, concentrating completely on their physiognomy. What is important is solely the face. First transferred to a computer, whose special software determines the relation of the eyes, nose, and mouth, the portraits are successively projected onto a large-format screen. The captivating frontality of these faces is joined by the fluid images of transition, remarkable intermediate states that result through morphing. Because in the same way each individual face emerges out of the crowd through the act of being photographed, it returns to the crowd and in the process momentarily passes through what are often bizarre transformations in which similarities and distinctions take turns: a laughing child rises from an earnest-looking man, a dark-skinned beauty emerges from a pale northern European.
The special variety and distinctiveness of an individual physiognomy, which is fascinating time and again, lies in the field of tension between the individual and the collective. Wolf Nkole Helzle’s communicative archive, MediaArtPiece, contains nearly 25,000 portraits taken of people throughout the world - a gigantic number and yet only a tiny fraction of a vast whole.
Dr. Rita E. Täuber, art historian, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart