Esther Teichmann and Monster Chetwynd: Phantasie Fotostudio II
16 February 2019 - 23 May 2019
Phantasie Fotostudio II is the most recent work made as part of the ongoing collaboration between artists Esther Teichmann and Monster Chetwynd. Since having first met at the Royal College of Art during their MA studies in 2004, the pair have been struck by the parallels in reference materials that their very distinct practices draw upon. Their practices also overlap in their adoption of tableaux vivantes and their use of theatrical backdrops and sets. Thus begun a dialogue and close friendship that has taken the form of making a joint body of work once a decade.
Their previous collaboration 'Phantasie Fotostudio, The Esthacus Teichwynd Photos' (fusing Spartacus Chetwynd and Esther Teichmann), was made and shown in Berlin in 2007. Utilising photography and collage, these works playfully draw on diverse references, from Walter Benjamin’s essay Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Man Ray and Lee Miller’s solarisations, to Brigitte Bardot as Roger Vadim’s muse, Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon (1980, dir. Randal Kleiser), Satyricon, David Lynch, and Walkabout (1971, dir. Nicholas Roeg). The subjects within these works recall imagined icons, at once beautiful and grotesque, a Frankenstein of moments in modern cinema and culture, each work unique and distinctly archival in quality, as though found on the kind of cutting-room floor you might encounter in a dream. All the protagonists are part of the artists’ circle of friends, artists, curators, musicians in their own right, with the inclusion of family.
Phantasie Fotostudio II brings many of the same protagonists together again along with new collaborators in this Warholesque film montage of extended portraits. Punctuated by the repetition of a crying figure, the film becomes a narrative of gazes, dramatized further by the original string quartet score by Benji Jeffrey, artist, musician and composer, who is also one of the protagonists within the film. Directed by Esther Teichmann, all the subjects selected costumes from Monster Chetwynd’s extraordinary wardrobe, under her careful guidance, with contributions by artist and make-up enthusiast Paul Kindersley. This most recent collaboration features not only a new generation of artist protagonists alongside Teichmann’s and Chetwynd’s peers, but also their own children, both in front of and behind the camera.
Esther Teichmann (b.1980, Karlsruhe, Germany) is a London based artist working with the photographic across still and moving image installations. Her practice looks at the relationships between loss, desire and the imaginary, slipping between autobiography and fiction. Recent solo museum shows include Heavy the Sea, Transformer Station, Cleveland and Mondschwimmen, Reiss-Engelhorn Museum, Mannheim. In collaboration with artist Christopher Stewart she curated and edited the exhibition and book Staging Disorder (2015) that included work by An-My Lê, Sarah Pickering, Richard Mosse and Broomberg & Chanarin. Teichmann received an MA (2005) and PhD (2011) in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art (RCA) and is Head of Programme of Master of Research, and Coordinator for Critical and Historical Studies at the RCA. Esther is currently working on a monograph of visual works and essays, On Sleeping and Drowning, forthcoming by Stanley/ Barker.
Monster Chetwynd (b. 1973, London, UK) lives in Glasgow, UK. Chetwynd’s practice intertwines performance, sculpture, painting, installation and video. Her work incorporates elements of folk plays, street spectacles, popular culture and Surrealist cinema. Her performances and videos often employ troupes of performers – friends and relatives of the artist – and feature handmade costumes and props. She has performed and exhibited internationally, and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2012. Solo exhibitions and performances include those at Foundation Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, Italy (2018); Sadie Coles HQ London (2018); CCA Glasgow (2016); Bergen Assembly, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2016); Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (2016); Arts Council Collection Commission (2016); Nottingham Contemporary (2014); Studio Voltaire, London (2014); Massimo de Carlo, Milan, Italy (2014); Sadie Coles HQ, London (2014); and the New Museum, New York (2011–12). She has been involved in numerous group exhibitions, most recently: Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, Remagen, Germany (2016); Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich, Switzerland (2016); Liverpool Biennial (2016); Glasgow International (2016); Edinburgh ArtFestival (2015); the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Sweden (2013); and ‘Performance Now: The First Decade of the New Century’, various venues, USA (2012–14).
Benji Jeffrey (b. 1988, Halifax) is a London based artist, musician and composer, working primarily in moving image and live performance to create works that interrogate and play with notions of theatricality, performativity, identity and authenticity, friendship, enthusiasm and joy. Music and collaboration are central to Jeffrey’s practice, which includes curatorial projects and drag. Benji received an MA from the Royal College of Art in Moving Image in 2017 and a BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art in 2011.