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Swaying Between The Arts
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by Sabine Graf
from "Arbeitnehmer", Magazine of the Workers' Chamber of the Saarland, July 2001

Julia Baur, photographer and painter living in Rehlingen rediscovered the human body in the recent years and captured it on photographic paper. Now painting is becoming the focus of her attention again.

Nothing seems to be what it appears at first sight. The folded, notched skin of the fingers pressed together, are they really two fingers or is it rather...... ? The spectator's own body memory offers yet another answer. The pain ter and photographer Julia Baur consciously utilizes these unambiguous ambiguities in her picto-rial language. The spectator is challenged to question his own senses, exert himself, explains the 37-year-old artist.

The body as a place to be discovered over and over again plays an outstanding role in the work of Julia Baur. This is to be understood literally as her last work shown at the exhibition "Art Scene Saar" at the Museum St. Ingbert was dedicated to the body as a dress. Julia Baur had taken pictures of the human skin for it. Her black and white photographs invited for a stroll over skin populated with delicate hair, the glance catching veins crossing like rivers, leading it to depressions and wrinkles or letting it hover above a network of fine scars. But it was not a culinary, merely erotic patchwork picture that Julia Baur joined together to a suited dress. Her focus was on the "body-dress" not as a horror fantasy but as a sensual experience or creation longing to be touched, felt, and experienced. Taking this body-dress as a preliminary end-point of her opus, her present phase has begun exactly five years ago. It was at an art exhibition of the German state of Saarland where the graduate of the University of Fine Arts Saar participated for the first time. She had then stretched out a huge white shirt in the Exhibition Pavilion of the Modern Gallery of the Saarland Museum. The uniform of a giant who had left his gown behind. At that time Julia Baur was still a student in the class of Bodo Baumgarten. The giant shirt marked a detachment from painting, she says today. "I didn't want to paint anymore, but create objects instead."

In 1992 she had come to Saarbrücken to continue her studies. After an interim balance she found new orientation working on her diploma in 1997. Acknowledging that she is part of an enormous interaction of the people surrounding her should dominate her work. She decided to take portraits. Not of heads or bodies however, but of her friends' feet instead. Doing so she turned to photography as a new medium. She installed a photo lab in her home and set about answering the question if not a foot could express the character of a human being just as well as his hands or face. So finally one day, harmonica-like rows of photographs stretched out throughout the basement of the School of Fine Arts. Julia Baur, today living in Rehlingen, had fathomed the essence of the detail, which she should further develop in an exhibition at the Cultural Foyer of the Cultural Department of Saarbrücken later on that year. "Menschliches", meaning both human and humane, was the title of this exhibition and thus demonstrates her focusing on the human body, on its apparently delicate detail. Together with her artist colleague Karin Schlecht she invited to an installation with roses and velvet as well as body fragments in the former Producers' Gallery O.T. in the Kultur- und Werkhof in Saarbrücken. The similarity of flower petals or of the pulp of a fruit or vegetable and the human body, their unexpected relations, was the discovery of that time.

"What The Body Dreams Of" was the title of another exhibition in the Gallery O.T. to which J. Baur invited in 2000. What does it dream of, then? "To be touched", was her answer. Feathers, glass pearls, lather, the mark of a thorny rubber ball on the skin, surrounding the skin, digging into it. J. Baur had developed a kind of erotic photography that was bare any banality or vulgarity. "It was a chance to experiment with the question of how else the body could look", she said. Again one of her means was the ambiguity of the image in order to create suspense in the perception.

In a following step another colorful variant was added to this play with sensuality. "Tender, Crunchy, Colorful" was the name of a photo installation and eating-performance by Julia Baur and Karin Schlecht, in which they showed meanwhile large-sized color photographs of body fragments together with fruits. A pumpkin or a fennel in a convincing relation with a detail of the human body. A yet more delightful suspense resulted. Even more so, as a banquet of fruits and vegetables was set up in front of the photographs from which the dinner party could feast using only their fingers and teeth as no cutlery was provided. The spectators had to leave their passive position and become part of the game.

The journey has not yet come to an end. She is again turning to photography, she tells. Photos, technically flopped or failed are becoming a blueprint for her painting. She is still a painter, Julia Baur adds. Maybe she only needed the apparent detour via photography to return to painting.

Gemeinschaftsausstellung mit Karin Schlicht    





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