Marie Wengler (born 1992)
How can art be used as social commentary?
How can art be used to understand or clarify human beings and our (repetitive) behavior and living conditions across historical eras, cultural differences, time and space?
During the first years of my life I used creativity as a mental escape being an outsider in a conform-oriented school system. It was – and still is – through creativity that I perceived the impressions form my surroundings. I drew in all my books, wrote short stories and poems on the back of my homework to my teacher’s annoyance. But then, in an early age, my dad leant me his digital camera. It was the start of what would become my passion for photography as an artistic medium. Via photography I was finally able to fully translate my inner vision to outer reality.
At first I tried numerous divergent styles, but moved gradually towards the staged, non-documentary, illusionistic photograph. Today I’ve found my artistic voice. I didn’t realized it at first, but after a couple of years of creative experiments, I suddenly understood that I was working with a recurring theme in my art. A theme, that I now hold on to, develop and still challenge. Even though my artistic projects might seem different visually, my thematic focus is consistent – the projects are linked together through the subject matter – and I usually work on several bodies of work concurrently.
My artistic practice is based upon a wonder that I try to answer visually. I am inspired by my surroundings and experiences, including music, literature, old and contemporary art (for instance Eckersberg, Gregory Crewdson or Ervin Olaf). Through my creation process I explore both myself and my surroundings.
My art is formed by, conceptually based upon and emerges from the intersection of social, cultural, political and personal interests. My interest in sociopolitical issues is emphasized and complemented by my ongoing studies of Sociology at the University of Copenhagen and courses at selected international recognized art schools.
My art thus becomes a tool for me whereby I can explore, critically question and connect our current contemporary society with previous historical sociopolitical tendencies and changing human living conditions in different parts of the world. Through this socio-cultural-historical perspective – combined with psycological theories about the human mind – I try to understand human behavior – including my own. I explore the human being from both a socio-political, cultural and psychological perspective and use familiar visual subjects and signs such as objects with specific symbolism, medical products and products with clear references to todays consumer society, urban landscapes, etc., arranging them into new conceptual photographic ideas.
I also use different color tones in order to create an unreal and (maybe even surreal) experience for the viewer. For instance, BLINDNESS _ is characterized by an indefinable milky-colored background tone (found by measuring the colortone of milk in Photoshop) with a shade of blue, to emphasize the theme in the series of images and a dream-like, illusionary mood.
I furthermore explore the boundary between illusion and reality in relation to the photographic technique that I use. To quote Ansel Adams, one of the analogue photographic masters, I don’t take a picture, I create them – through weeks and months of elaborate set-ups.
My works are therefore staged down to the smallest detail. But I does more than just staging my photographs, as I subsequently use digital manipulation technologies and thus can highlight, remove, add or reshape elements in my pieces. It is in this process that I believe that I actually transforms my photographs into pieces of art.It is through this process that I challenge the viewer’s perception of the real and unreal. I try to emphasize the disturbing tendencies and imperfection in todays world through the creation of unreal and illusionary photographic perfection.
I also use the new manipulative techniques as they – in my opinion – are the epitome of contemporary development, why my approach to retouching in itself allows me to comment on contemporary trends in society.
I thus believe that new photographic manipulative techniques can help to re-think the photographic medium in relation to artistic purposes. In contrast to earlier (and still) widespread rejections of manipulated photographs in the art world, I advocate for the mentioned techniques. If used properly I think they can highlight an artistic concept, not destroy it.
Simultaneously I often use myself as model, whereby I become both the object and the observer in my pieces: I dehumanize myself. The choice of nudity is deliberate, as I hereby remove all kinds of symbolism or references related to social strata. The naked body is timeless. In addition, almost all of my works contains parts of or are based upon my whole body, whereby I articulate my own living conditions in relation to human conditions in general relative to specific historical socio-cultural tendencies. My use of nudity in art does therefore not have a vulgar propose, but is used as part of my questioning society and todays tendencies.
I would like my art to reflect what I have to say, not just what I see. I would like to challenge the viewer through my art, and I hope to provide a new approach to conceptual photography as artistic medium and a different sociological-inspired perspective and understanding of todays society and human beings – and our changing or repeating living conditions.
Sociology (BA) / University of Copenhagen, Denmark (CSS)
Following courses at the art school ICP (International Center of Photography)
Worked as an intern for the photographic contemporary Swedish artist Susanna Hesselberg 2012, during her creation of a new series of images.
Starting up the artistic magazine TOXIQUE in 2012, which led to a trip to NYC in March 2013 in order to cover art fairs and events after VIP invitation from VOLTA NY, SCOOPE and The Armory Show. See online versions at: http://www.toxiquemag.com
Starting own business in January 2013 (M.Wengler), working with freelance photography, graphic design and Adobé enhancement solutions.
Volunteer at the youth organisation ULK (part of The National Gallery of Denmark, SMK) since the beginning of 2013, working on communicating art in alternative and innovative ways.
Lecturer during Inclusive Museum Conference at The National Gallery of Denmark and Lousiana – Museum of Modern Art, 2013
Lecturer during Social Media Week at the National Gallery of Denmark, 2013 (http://socialmediaweek.org)
Internship at Den Frie Contemporary (independent exhibition space, Copenhagen, Denmark), 2013, gaining a greater understanding of the dissemination and handling of art and exhibitions (http://denfrie.dk)