Alison Jacques Gallery presents its first solo exhibition of photographs by German artist Juergen Teller (b.1964, Erlangen).
This exhibition comprises selections from three bodies of work – the artist’s iconic series Go-Sees; Enjoy Your Life! Junior, a recent collaboration with Bubenreuth Primary School in the artist’s hometown; and a ‘visual essay’ depicting a modern fairy tale about a boy who became a king.
The Go-Sees is a seminal work from Teller’s early career. Produced over the course of one year from May 1998, and shot from the threshold to Teller’s West London studio, the title of this series documents an industry term for a photographer’s first meeting with a new model. Unlike a casting, the ‘Go-See’ is a model’s testing ground; an open-ended encounter between the photographer and model, without the prospect of a definite commission. Like casting appointments, these events determine the potential career success for the model. Teller’s series obliquely interrogates the fashion industry with which he is involved.
‘The models in Go-Sees become much more than bearers of externally directed aesthetic values. While the photographic gaze is shaped by and reciprocally shapes the convention of the go-see, Teller suggests that even within these parameters it is possible to find new ways of seeing.’ Shannan Peckham, Juergen Teller Go-Sees, published by Scalo, 1999.
Framed by the doorway of Teller’s studio, the Go-Sees are depicted in many guises: shy, confident, hopeful, disengaged, energetic, relaxed, and in casual clothing. Transgressing fine art and fashion photography, the portraits, as with all of Teller’s other work, are never retouched. Teller’s snapshot style and spontaneous and unusual angles defer from the polished visual protocols so closely associated with the luxury world.
Shown concurrently in the smaller exhibition room, Enjoy Your Life! Junior is the result of a school-led outing by 6 and 7-year-old students of Bubenreuth Primary to see Teller’s exhibition Juergen Teller at Kunstpalais in Erlangen (2017). An unusual exhibition to take primary school students to, the children were surprised and inspired by the honesty in Teller’s work. Reversing the situation of Go-Sees, Teller responded to the students’ enthusiasm with a spontaneous visit to the school during which he encouraged them to take photographs of each other and the artist himself. Subverting the conventional relationship of the artist and model, the children playfully re-enact some of Teller’s most iconic images.
‘At times it’s only small details that link the original to the children’s vision, but then those details are exactly what the children liked most about the photo…’ Christina Busch (Teacher, Grundschule Bubenreuth, Erlangen), ‘Juergen Teller Means Dirty Walls’, POP Magazine, Summer 2017.
Teller’s display of the Bubenreuth Primary kids’ photographs invites viewers to play a role in recollection, as one body of work develops from another and remind us of Teller’s humour, self-mockery and emotional honesty.
This exhibition explores the development of Teller’s work over the last two decades and its ability to change the perception of stereotypical ideals of beauty and aesthetics within present-time. The exhibition culminates in the upstairs gallery where a new body of work, shown for the first time, creates a visual narrative of a modern fairy tale; a portrait of a man born in London, a boy who became a king.
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