RUDOLPH CHAUDOIRE PAVILLON, 2009, Technical University Dortmund
Four Jews on Parnassus. A photographic dialogue: Gabriele Seethaler - Carl Djerassi; Carl Djerassi Symposium

Carl Aigner, director, Landesmuseum Niederösterreich, St. Pölten, January 2009

Photography as multiple imagery

The dialogue between the sciences and the arts by Carl Djerassi and Gabriele Seethaler

The radical break-up of the central perspective that emerged in the Renaissance was not started by cubism, as is often claimed, but the invention of photography. It marks the beginning of multiperspectivism, by establishing the seriality of the image and the technology of the “collage” based on the possibility of the multiple exposure.

In very subtle ways, biochemist/photographer Gabriele Seethaler traces the multiple thought processes by scientist/writer Carl Djerassi by sounding out the new pictorial possibilities of the photographic image. From the very beginning, the question of pictorial identity stood in the center of her interest. One large series of images, entitled „Identity Genotype Phenotype,“ fuses a person’s portrait with the genetic fingerprint (Franz Neuhuber, professor of forensic medicine) and the musical identity (Renald Deppe, composer). Quickly, the monotonous portrait is transferred into new scientific contexts and the unilateral photographic image is broken open.

In addition to multiple exposure as simultaneous parallelism, facet-cut mirror portraits and the almost forgotten lenticular image technique become her preferred procedures and modes of presentation. This experimental realization of a photographic claim transcends Carl Djerassi’s thinking and reflects the question of (sexual) identity in the age of genetic and biotechnologies. Gabriele Seethaler emphatically demonstrates that the conception of the subject of an era and a society correlates directly with the conception of the image.

   "In front of the lens, I am at the same time: the one I think I am, the one I want others they think I am, the one the photographer thinks I am, and the one he makes use of to exhibit his art.” In this way, French philosopher Roland Barthes describes the complexity of the traditional portrait. In her works, Seethaler broadens our understanding of the multilayered personal identity in the 21st century and again inquires into the notion of subject and human identity in the age of genetic reproducibility which Djerassi so insistently treats in his novels and plays."

© 2009 Gabriele Seethaler