Angela Grauerholz’s work offers an archival perspective of the image. At the intersection of different theoretical and sensory perspectives of photography, Grauerholz challenges the autonomy of the image and its potential for holding memory by observing shared sites of modern Western visual culture. In this sense, more than facts, Grauerholz’s documentary manipulations and conservation systems preserve and disseminate, beyond the factual, modes of communication and interpretation of daily life. The identity-related and cultural themes of the work borrow the notion of collection from the form of the library and reveal the institution’s power to assemble things.
Grauerholz’s photographic work sometimes spills over into installation and sculptural — even architectural — concerns. She melds photographic language with the language of design and modulates both, sourced from private and public archives, in a way that structures a visual world at the confluence of history and memory. She thus triggers a reflection on the use, the proliferation, and the possible loss of documents. The encounter of unique temporalities and sensibilities suggests a fluctuating, temporary system of representation.
Acting as both curator and librarian, Grauerholz conveys the processes of classifying heterogeneous documents and their influence on modes of reception through spatial organization, in Reading Room for the Working Artist (2003–04), or through the intangible space of the Internet, in atworkandplay (2009). Inspired by the reading room presented by Alexander Rodchenko at the Paris World Fair in 1925 and by the convoluted world of the Web, Grauerholz stages diverse experiences for the reading of documents that echo her image-focused approach to collection, selection, and reflection. The collections and their archiving systems are exposed as stagings of content to be explored and invested with personal perspective.
In Grauerholz’s work, the conditions and codes of the image and the archive allow for the subjective deployment of collective meaning. The spectator may freely translate the arborescent form of the suggested content and participate in the memory — or the amnesia — of the world.
Translated from the French by Käthe Roth