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Project-Concept by Anke Haarmann (mailto:anke.haarmann@hamburg.de).

Selbst/ Bilder (Self/images)- A sequence to compile a cultural archive

The project sequence Selbst/ Bilder (Self/images) emphasises socially relevant key issues in a co-operative work method. The goal is to create a cultural archive enlarging with each new project added. So far, the collection covers the first two contributions: hip-hop and fitness.

Hip-hop was produced in two phases together with young people from Hamburg (1997/1998 and 2000/2001) while fitness was a project realised in Wolfsburg together with different groups of local fitness studio users (2000).

Future topics to enlarge the archive are success or games planned so far. The topic names cite to the general intention of the sequence: a reflection of social key issues in their pop-cultural appearances.

While hip-hop documents young adultsí media compatible rebellion, fitness illustrates contemporary body images as advertised by and realised in "body-style" fitness studios.

Moreover the future project success will reflect economic influences whereas games will focus on the creation of social environment.

All of these topics exist in images presented by contemporary media. The threshold these media images form with socially relevant key issues in public, is of vital importance to my work. My concern is how certain individual personsí self-images are mirrored, reinforced or deterred by the media images. I am interested in development of the individual self-image as a process of reflecting or excluding influences of social environment and role models. The relationship of an individual person to society can also be observed in the relationship of images - private and public - which aesthetically express cultural standards.

My question is how the described threshold between public and self image is recognised, how deep surrounding influences dig into this process and how much the individual person contributes to the process of producing and reproducing images. Not only as passive recipients but also as active participants, individuals take part in the creation of their own self-images, thereby selecting from the spectrum of contemporary images as their guides.

My intention is to examine the influence of public images and social key issues to an individual person through the co-operative method. The reaction of the individual person to the public is in the focus of my work and consequently the individual person is the centre of my interest. Therefore Self/images umbrellas co-operative projects showing individuals struggling with public and private images. The label "AHA in interaction with ..." expresses both method and intention.

The co-operative method includes the quest for persons who have a natural affinity to the issue in focus and generally, I look for them more on the image consuming than the producing side. The task is to develop and realise a production that imitates and plays with the prototypical media images. My artistic competence is to be used by the persons involved to document their self-images in photos, videos, Internet sites, drawings, comics, etc. in a similar aesthetic quality as the public images. Thus, my contribution to the production process is to initiate a creative platform on which the persons involved can present, reflect and portray their self-images.

In the resulting pictures, project participants duplicate their role models and encounter their own utopian images. The main aim of the project sequence is therefore, to create a feedback loop wherein the participants receive their images as 'trophies', rather than to produce artistic pictures as mere artefacts.

Hence, my strategy allows me to surpass a simplistic reproduction of stereotypical images. Indeed, it allows me to highlight a provocative presentation that violates standardised expectations, showing superficially and aesthetically idealised project participants while their unique images shine through. Aesthetically the photos, videos or comics produced, meet contemporary standards of media aesthetic. Simultaneously, the individual participantís approach and imagination are redefining these standards.

In addition to the process resulting in the pictorial products, it is important to me and my work that there is a possible (side-)effect for the participants: activity and self esteem might emerge as a result of the participants' positive reactions to the produced images Apart from the passive reception there are the phases of active participation in which the individuals develop their own ideas, evaluate their ideals (models?) and take part in the creative process itself. The development from the passive recipient to the active participant is, as it were, the liberating approach of the co-operative method.

Anke Haarmann (c)

Translation by Frauke Haarmann

Website: aha projects (virtual archive)- http://www.aha-projekte.de

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Last edited November 29, 2004 11:00 (diff)