In the early ’90s, Zurich artist Caro Niederer (b. 1963) came to the attention of the public with her colourful paintings created in a flat, unpretentious style. Her small-format paintings were based on postcards which the artist brought back from her travels. Back in that early series she explored the inter-media and cultural transformability of pictures, an approach which, to this day, remains central to the wide-ranging work of the artist. Last year Caro Niederer was awarded the renowned Manor Art Prize of the city of St. Gallen. In addition to the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, the overview exhibition of her work, which was set up to coincide with the award ceremony, will also be on view at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (April 2005) and at Haus Lange, Krefeld (October 2006). Caro Niederer is exhibiting new paintings, photographs and a video work at her solo exhibition at Hauser & Wirth.
While Caro Niederer used postcards or art prints as a basis for her early works, nowadays she primarily uses private photographs as the starting point for her paintings. The artist gives us an insight into her personal photo album in graduated shades of brown – impressions from a holiday in Kenya, her daughter playing on the beach in Calabria or a bunch of flowers on her kitchen table at home. She takes everyday situations and, through the choice of subject and the manner in which the painting is rendered, turns them into archetypes, prototypes of memory.
Caro Niederer has focused on thematicising her own artistic work and on exploring how art and everyday life are interwoven. Time and again in her work she revisits previous projects, retracing them in a new communication context. In her 2001 work entitled Living with Art – Shelf, Pullover, Art the artist embroidered the titles of earlier exhibitions onto coloured woollen pullovers, reawakening memories of her own work. This metacommunicative element is evident in Caro Niederer’s art particularly in her series of interiors. In these conceptual photographs, the artist shows the paintings which she has sold on view in their new owners’ rooms. This clearly illustrates how communication develops between the picture and the collector and how this connection dictates how the picture is viewed. At the same time, this picture within a picture arrangement reflects the desire to preserve the work within her own work, to remember herself and to bring this back into the context of art.
Touching upon the self-reflexivity of her work, Caro Niederer made the following point in an interview with Felicity Lunn: My practice is like an open spiral that moves with time. My work revolves around the subject of memory and the question of what remains that is valuable.
In her work Conversations about Work Caro Niederer returns to the medium of film for the first time in over ten years. The video was shot during a conversation over tea and coffee, which the artist held on the occasion of the Appenzeller Frauenaufzug an exhibition of works by women artists at the Armoury in Teufen AR. In it, Caro Niederer chats with eight other women about contemporary life plans and the challenges of everyday (working) life. Touching upon the topics of architecture, art, advertising and communication, she explores the question of how creativity comes about. The participants’ reflections on life and work pick up on Caro Niederer’s central theme of memory and the question of what remains on a personal level that is of any value.
The text of the video Conversations about Work will be published to coincide with the exhibition (German/English, illustrated in colour).