selected by Todd Spire
“Felsenfest” / Growing up Catholic in Germany, gothic depictions of saints, often eerie and gruesome, were part of my upbringing. The fear of eternal pain and suffering was instilled in me very early on. Nuremberg , the city that Hitler chose to establish his party conventions, but also where Albrecht Dürer lived and practiced his art, is my hometown. Felsenfest has greatly been shaped by a recent trip to Nuremberg .
Each society and each ideology has martyrs but none depicts them like Christianity. Tortured saints are shown either while their agony is occurring, or after they endured pain and death and are now safe in heaven, still suggesting the ways of their suffering by carrying a palm frond and the torture device.
I create images that refer to these representations – their historical accuracy set aside. If Renaissance portraiture is about the linking of beauty and psychological insight, paintings and sculptures of martyrs are symbols for strength of character and morality. With “Felsenfest” I examine depictions of Christian martyrs. My Renaissance style photographs do not give insight into my models’ psyche; do my images of martyrs give insight into their lives, character, and legends? I hope to make the viewer aware of the subjectivity of art and history, and to evoke critical examination of images with these unusual depictions of well-known icons. How important are facts, and how reliable are stories and legends?
Joseph Beuys wrote: “…Art is the only still unconsumed function that derives from a profoundly historical past but returns as the future, as the totality of self-aware-man.” This is the contemporary tradition in which I understand my work.
Todd Spire writes: Angelika Rinnhofer’s “Felsenfest” series commands an immediate attention. The photographs embody Rinnhofer’s entire process of investigating, navigating, dissecting, and commenting on an enormous range of artistic, social, and historical contexts. All while presenting final works which are nothing short of exquisite. They are photographs that tell a story about the history of all “art-making” as well as the making of history itself, our relationship to our past, and Rinnhofer’s own take on what it means to look at our religious and artistic idols.
Angelika Rinnhofer completed a Professional Apprenticeship at Foto Bischof & Broehl in Nuremberg , Germany and studied at the Fachoberschule für Gestaltung Art School , also in Nuremberg . She has exhibited her work at the Loft in Millbrook, NY; the Beacon Artists Union, NY; the Howland Cultural Center; NY; the Goethe Institute, Los Angeles, CA; Photokina, Cologne, Germany; and Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Denver, CO. In 2005 she received a Dutchess County Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship and a Light Work Artist Residency. She has been published in Pulse, Chronogram, PHOTOGRAPHY quarterly, Denver Rocky Mountain News, and German Rolling Stone. Her work is in the collections of the Center for Photography at Woodstock on extended loan to the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz and Light Work.