Katinka Bock & Michael Schmidt

Zander Galerie Cologne is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition featuring selected works by artists Katinka Bock and Michael Schmidt. This presentation puts two different artistic voices in dialogue, highlighting their shared thematic interests and distinctive approaches to the medium of photography. By capturing moments in urban, familial, and historical contexts, Bock and Schmidt find ways to investigate and reflect on the passing of time, be it in the shape of urban development or fleeting moments.

Selected works by Katinka Bock (*1976) and Michael Schmidt (1945-2014) come together in a visual dialogue that invites viewers to discover the intersections of their creative fields. Bock’s practice moves between the mediums of sculpture, photography, film, and installation while exploring concepts related to history, territory, space and temporality. Schmidt, a trailblazer of German contemporary photography, developed his own approach to reality for each of his series—for instance Waffenruhe (1985-87)Architektur (1989-91) or Frauen (1997-99), the latter of which is also presented in the exhibition. Due to a process of constant reflection and innovation, his œuvre has been a seminal influence on a younger generation of photographers.

Katinka Bock’s artistic trajectory is anchored firmly in the field of sculpture, yet she sees her photographic practice as a “periphery”—a space of experimentation and nuanced exploration. She describes photography as a “sting” that pierces into the surface of reality, introducing an element of disruption and revelation. Bock captures life without interfering with what is in front of her camera or intentionally inscribing any particular meaning in it.  Michael Schmidt, on the other hand, was a self-taught photographer and became a pioneer of a new documentary style after the Second World War. His work deals with urban landscapes, history and social structures in Berlin. Not intending to change the “world”, his images merely show how things were. Although the work of Schmidt predates that of Bock, they both use a related aesthetic form in their mode of expression and are close observers of their surroundings.

Katinka Bock’s Wesen (2024) consists of a horizontal radiator mounted on fine steel supports, on which the folded green ceramic rests, as the artist puts it “exhausted” laying on a glass plate. It is an example of Bock’s sculptural vocabulary, characterized by a minimalist aesthetic and a tendency toward abstraction. She invites viewers to contemplate the essence of form and its transience of existence. Crafted from an array of organic and industrial materials—clay, sand, stone, chalk, wood, and metal—her sculptures emerge through a process of intuitive manipulation, guided by the serendipitous gestures of folding, rolling, and positioning. 

Bock’s sculptures as well as her photographs are created with spontaneity and velocity. Her photographic compositions capture fleeting moments and often focus on subjects in her immediate surroundings:  A cricket sitting on someone’s shoulder during sunset, as seen in One of 100 words (2019) or For your eyes only (S) (2016,) where the imprint of grass on the skin of two naked legs is just about to disappear. Mostly created within a familial, urban, or natural context, Bock avoids any personal references, liberating her work from fixed intentions.

The city has a strong presence in Michael Schmidt’s works created between the late 1980s and early 1990s. He embarked on a transformative exploration of urban landscapes, resulting in his serial works 89/90 and Architektur. Characterized by tight cropping, shallow depth of field, and the use of large formats uncommon at the time, these series transcend mere documentation to become symbols of the zeitgeist. Schmidt extracts motifs from their contexts, urban or personal, elevating them to an emblematic status—representative not only of the cities’ physical structures but also of its collective memory and social fabric.

In his series Frauen (1997–1999) Schmidt turns his gaze on the individual, examining the complexities of identity under the pervasive influence of societal norms and ideals. Through a series of intimate portraits, Schmidt confronts the viewer with the unsettling reality of the “levelling of individuality,” where personal narratives are eclipsed by the relentless pressure to conform. 

Katinka Bock studied at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee and at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. She was nominated for the Prix Marcel Duchamp in 2019 and received the Prix de Production 1% du Marché de l’Art, Paris. Her work has been exhibited at major institutions including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Foundation Pernod Ricard, Paris; Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover and Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn. 

Michael Schmidt’s work is in the collections of numerous museums and institutions worldwide. He was the recipient of the Prix Pictet for Consumption, the seminal exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Schmidt’s work has been exhibited internationally, for example at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Jeu de Paume, Paris; Albertina, Vienna; Sprengel Museum, Hanover; Museum Folkwang, Essen and Berlinische Galerie, Berlin.

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