Intimations of Mystery

Doris Frohnapfel’s works always consist of text and photography. The two parts do not illustrate each other, but create a new set of polarities between which the meaning arises, first and foremost in the imagination of the observer. She exploits the special interplay of presence and absence and of realism and fiction that can be found in photography. On the one hand the photograph has the evidence-like character of the documentation; on the other it is wholly void of meaning in itself, and a text or some other form of contextualisation can guide the understanding of the picture in widely different directions. […] In one of her most recent series, Race-Make-Up of 1997/1998, Doris Frohnapfel again exploits the interaction of text and photo in a conceptual form that recalls Joseph Kosuth’s works of the sixties and seventies, but which has different political, historical controversial implications. Each work consists of a place, a text that relates to the place, and a staged portrait of the artist herself. The title Race-Make-Up is ambiguous. On the one hand it refers to her casting of herself in a role, for example made up as a black American; on the other it suggests a form of penance, “making up for something”. She ironizes over the racism and egoism of western culture juxtaposing a photo of the Office of Foreigners in Cologne with a number of grotesque, cynical jokes about foreigners and a self-portrait as the tragic clown. Or she comments in a text on the age-old discussion about a possible Holocaust Memorial in Berlin with a photo of the still underdeveloped site in Berlin and a self-portrait with a Star of David.