Friedl vom Gröller

The oeuvre of Friedl Kubelka / vom Gröller stems from an analog practice in photography and film, a practice in which the notion of the portrait has become the focus of her artistic and psychological observations. The factor of time and the associated process of aging have been made visible during the artist’s continuous study of her own self and of others. In 1972, bringing together the contextual framework of photography with analysis of the body, Kubelka began work on her Year’s Portraits, for which she took a portrait of herself every day for an entire yearan artistic project that she has repeated every five years since then. She later extended the cycle of this meticulous framing of time and personae to a variety of people, such as her daughter in Life Portrait of Louise Anna Kubelka (starting after her birth in 1978 and carried out every five years until the age of sixteen). Although photography has often been thought of as a continuation of the tradition of portraiture in painting, Kubelka never emphasized the flawless depiction of a person in a photograph, always being much more interested in ruptures produced not only by the medium and the gaze but also by the psychological states of the portrayed individual. This led to One Thousand Changing Thoughts in 1980, an extensive portrait series of 1,000 barely changing photos showing her mother and representing her thoughts—a series that, as a number, was also symbolic of the wishes and desires that had gone unfulfilled during Kubelka’s childhood. The artist’s life-long fascination with the human psyche eventually moved her to study psychoanalysis, in which she completed her training in 1997.

Similar to her photographic portraits, which revolve around family, friends, and artist-colleagues such as Franz West and Cora Pongracz and the filmmaking colleagues of then-husband Peter Kubelka, Friedl vom Gröller’s films can be considered extensions of such portraits, exploring specific situations in different cities while being tied to people and their fates at given moments. The artist translates the static elements of black-and-white photography into the realm of her films, which often depict only minimal gestures in the faces of the chosen subjects. Here, vom Gröller expands on the parallel continuum of time and space and on the small actions that the portrayed people perform therein. The personal once again stands at the center of her filmic analysis in situations such as visiting her mother in a nursing home (Bliss, 2011), or in close-ups of five female friends plus the artist shortly before her marriage to psychotherapist Georg Gröller (Hen Night, 2009). This was also the first film released under the name Friedl vom Gröller. The artist’s mainly silent films study thoughts as well as psychic conditions of individuals that are not directly articulated but made visible through bodily gestures. The camera thus records the artist’s observations of her immediate environment with all its social and psychoanalytical imbroglios.



1946, London / UK
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