Peter Piller – Document Control
In the mid 1990s the German artist Peter Piller worked at a Hamburg press agency while studying art. His job was to collect clippings and monitor where and how the paid ads of regional advertising clients and companies actually appeared in print. Like Richard Prince during his job at the Time Life Company (which provided the source of inspiration for his now world-famous Cowboys series), Peter Piller discovered particular photographs while daily surveying the press, which he then set aside and organized into categories, such as Auto Berühren (Touching Car), Noch ist nichts zu sehen (Bauerwartungsflächen) (Nothing Yet to Be Seen [Prospective Building Sites]), and Schiessende Mädchen (Shooting Girls). Over the years he compiled these images into his Archive Peter Piller, now comprising over 7,000 images, which the artist continues to investigate by sorting and arranging the images into different thematic series. With the exhibition Document Control Fotomuseum Winterthur offered a look into this extensive archive.
In Piller’s work the relationship between image and text is an important criteria for the classification of photographs. Where others might not notice anything particular, through repeated, concentrated observation the artist has developed a delicate sensibility that allows him to discern the hidden qualities of photographs taken for ordinary purposes. Arranged in groups and coded by titles, the found or assembled visual material is thus placed in a different context; Piller thus brings the images into a different artistic order. For example, Von Erde schöner (More Beautiful from Earth) was a large installation including countless images from an archive of aerial photographs of private homes taken in the 1980s; Nimmt Schaden (Suffer Damages) stems from the digital photo archive of a Swiss insurance company and is a quiet ode to the unknown photographer. With his Peripheriewanderungen (Periphery Walks) and the series Kraft (Power) and Schlaf (Sleep) we also discovered something about Piller as a photographer. Also in this latter context, the artist focuses on the realm of everyday life, lending our profane activities and rituals a humorous dimension through his perceptions.
Peter Piller – Document Control has been developed by Fotomuseum Winterthur in cooperation with the Centre de la Photographie, Geneva. The two-part exhibition was taking place simultaneously in Winterthur and Geneva. Additional partners were the Städtische Galerie Nordhorn and the Kunsthalle Nürnberg. The accompanying publication, the first collection of texts Peter Piller’s work in book format, has been published by Walther König.