In his considered approach to the means and possibilities of photography, Thomas Ruff explores a breadth of themes that is reflected in the range of techniques he employs: analogue and digital exposures taken by the artist exist in his practice alongside computer generated imagery, photographs from scientific archives, and pictures culled and manipulated from newspapers, magazines, and the Internet.
The works in the exhibition present a continuation of the artist’s press++ series, which he debuted at David Zwirner in New York earlier this year. They are photographs of archival media clippings from American newspapers across several decades. While the earlier show focused on space exploration, this selection—which features both large-scale and smaller works—reflects a broader variety of themes, and includes cars, car crashes, and Hollywood stars.
Ruff scanned the front and back of the original documents, which he has been collecting over several years, and combined the two sides. Interested equally in the subject matter (and any touch-ups) on the front of the paper and the words, stamps, signatures, and smudges on the back, he thus created seamless montages of image and text, in the process compromising the integrity of the former as well as adding relevant context. The overlap causes each side to lose its intended information and merge into a new image altogether. As such, the often disrespectful treatment of press pictures by newspaper editors becomes obvious, as text, cropping, and retouching can all fundamentally change the original document.
- Thomas Ruff, press++28.19, 2016.