About the magic of the constructed view
Unapproachable, surreal, and a bit offside: this is how the first impression of the images could be described, even if all that they represent is perceived as real and not extraordinarily exotic. Animals, people, and landscapes — all these subjects belong to everybody's fund of experience and are easy to identify.
Petra Schneider crosses the line — consciously and in a very sophisticated manor. In the beach pictures of the series "gotyourtrash", for example, the photographer "purifies" the pictures digitally removing all that does not fit her concept. She concentrates on the fundamental and in this way constructs situations that appear almost calming. Clean, intact beaches, without the usual fuss created by bathers, look as if they were penetrated, populated for the first time. Like courageous explorers tourist define borders, explore the terrain, set signs that are to be seen from far away. Certainly, there are virgin beaches, but the more frequented places look different.
Also in the second series the photographer is not satisfied by the reality she comes across, but assembles modules photographed as single aspects to create a new picture. Comparable with the range of a painter Petra Schneider uses her manifold digital archive — which she continuously expands with new pictures — to compose her conceptual images.
Quite a lot of courage is needed to work patiently at the computer and not to overload the images with too many elements. As if it were a puzzle, the photographer mounts single elements together until the picture corresponds with the constructed "reality", with no element missing or misplaced.
Therefore it is not well studied or spontaneously photographed details of real life that we are to perceive, but well elaborated and convincingly realised montages which appear strikingly clean and harmonious, that apart from a few exceptions could have happened exactly that way anywhere in the world.
Petra Schneider's digital constructions fill with joy and visual inspiration those free spaces between being and appearance, which are offered by every-day life. The real world is also peppered with absurdities that again and again break through the lineafity of logic, of credibility. Also romance or poetic nuances are not missing and serve as a teaser for the senses that thirst for harmony. Again the photographer shows sensibility for the intensity of her manipulations and consciously maintains a distance to overloaded kitsch.
Among photography purists this kind of constructed image may not provoke great enthusiasm. But if one is ready to question the certainly discussable dogma of truth, of authenticity, Petra Schneider's constructed situations are immediately positioned in a totally different way.
Only to concentrate on the technical refinement of Petra Schneider's pictures would be basically wrong. Indeed the digital instruments are new and fascinating and one is inevitably astonished by the diverse possibilities. But here, and this is the clearly notable quality of the work, it is about very inspiring pictures that we keep in mind.It is this visual presence that speaks to the viewer directly and fascinates him, also without giving any information on the development of the work.