Michael Schuster

1956 (Graz), lives and works in Graz

Michael Schuster taught himself his artistic skills. The artist from Graz has been dealing with the problem of perception and reproduction of reality since the 1970s in his media-reflective works. His conceptual approach has not only led to a questioning of reality, but above all to a questioning of the medium of photography itself.

In his media-analytical works, in which he examines the reality-forming properties of the media and their illusory nature, self-reference is a key feature. For example, he uses photography as a mirror, thus reflecting the complex experiences of perception and the mirror phenomena, illusion and hallucination, and poses the fundamental question of whether the mirror tells the truth. Our trust in the mirror is as strong as our trust in our sense organs, for the mirror registers and controls us as soon as we enter it, without inverting our image, as does the photographic print, that seeks to create the illusion of reality.

The aim of Schuster’s mirror works is to perplex, for the substitutive process of replacing the mirror image of space with a photo of space causes the mirror to lose its control function over the viewer – whose absence rather than presence is depicted. The mirror becomes an image support for a time exposure by means of photography and permits no other points in time, the viewer’s present and the photo’s present collide. The focus is always on the conditions of perception in terms of media, technology and everyday culture. By taking given conditions literally and with the aid of a pictorial humour aimed at «tautological» aporia, the artist thwarts subjective expectations of art.

In 1979 the artist exhibited at the Vienna Secession and in 1993 at the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna. In 2003 his works were on show at Kunsthaus Graz, and one year later he took part in “steirischer herbst”.