Annette Kelm’s photographs often focus on artificial arrangements of objects that look familiar yet generate additional signification that makes them difficult to read. Her images quote the genres of still life and studio or architecture photography, but never fully comply with the conventions governing these genres. On the contrary, they seem to defy photography’s function as a medium of either documentation or staged representation in favor of something that is both a pictorial composition and a meditation on photographic representation as such. Capturing their subjects in frontal view and in great detail, Kelm’s conceptual approach to photography maintains an air of slight impersonality yet emphasizes the visual potential of the motifs to stand for more than just themselves. In her still lives, everyday objects lose their original meaning to gain an unexpected new one.
Over the years, the artist has shown much interest in how things are presented in museums or as part of a collection. How does an object in a display case become a placeholder for cultural history? How do displays frame and structure an item’s readability? Which supplementary information is needed to decode its meaning?