Christopher Williams: Normative Models continues the artist’s active investigation of conventions of pictorial production and presentation. Seven key photographs are displayed within a system of eleven freestanding wall works that intervene in the architecture of the exhibition space, underscoring Williams’s self-described interest in establishing a more "mobile" position as an artist, alternately acting as "camera operator, picture editor, exhibition designer, graphic designer." Normative Models marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in Hanover, and is curated by Christina Végh and Lea Altner.
Deeply political and historical, Christopher Williams’s (b. 1956) photographs evoke a subtle shift in our perception by questioning the communication mechanisms and aesthetic conventions that influence our understanding of reality. Deploying a style of photography that references multiple sources and precedents, including the carefully composed and well-lit images of the 1920s New Objectivity movement, the photo-conceptualism that he encountered as a student at CalArts in the 1970s, and the advertisement industry, Williams creates layered works that critically, but also playfully, reveal the conditions of the medium in post-industrial society.
Williams, who is originally from Los Angeles, is currently professor of photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. The artist has presented a number of solo exhibitions under the title Christopher Williams. For Example: Dix-Huit Leçons Sur La Société Industrielle, versions of which have been shown in Germany at the Kunstverein Braunschweig (2005), the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2010), and the Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen (2011). Williams’s work was first presented in Hanover as part of group exhibitions at the Sprengel Museum in the early 1990s.
The artist’s first major museum retrospective, Christopher Williams: The Production Line of Happiness, traveled from The Art Institute of Chicago to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and London’s Whitechapel Gallery from 2014 to 2015. For The New York Times critic Roberta Smith, viewing the show in New York, the exhibition conveyed "the complexity of Mr. Williams’s achievement and of art making itself with a wondrous lucidity."
Images: Installation view, Christopher Williams: Normative Models, kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, 2018. Photos by Raimund Zakowski.