press release

Christopher Williams | Normative Models
5 May to 29 July 2018

The Kestner Gesellschaft will present Normative Models, a solo exhibition by Christopher Williams (*1956 in Los Angeles). Williams studied at the California Institute of the Arts in the late 1970s under such artists as John Baldessari, Douglas Huebler, and Michael Asher. Taking up photography as his primary medium, Williams’s work is inspired by the industrial culture of the late-capitalist era and investigates systems of meaning and classification. Often working in collaboration with set designers, models and technicians, the resulting technically precise photographs recall imagery from 1960s advertising, the Cold War era, as well as the histories of art, photography and cinema, from Pop Art and Capitalist Realism, to New Objectivity and Surrealism.

The seven photographs included in Normative Models are key examples of a mode within Williams’ photographic practice wherein generic image types are taken from the culture at large and replicated, often very directly, but with an elevated level of production and a precision and attention to detail that rewards a more sustained type of looking than images are typically given within contemporary visual culture. These images each depict subjects from everyday life (cars, children, cookware, animals, vegetation, furniture, etc.) that are familiar to everyone participating in Western consumer culture. However, their presentation and juxtapositions make explicit the various contexts in which images and artworks circulate, encompassing their display structures, exhibition design, graphic communication, publications, and press materials as elements at play within broader discursive social and political networks and histories.

Christopher Williams was born in 1956 in Los Angeles. Since 2008 Williams has been the Professor of Photography at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. His survey exhibition The Production Line of Happiness was presented at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 2014-2015. Other recent monographic exhibitions include ETH Exhibitions, Zürich (2017), La Triennale di Milano, Milan (2017), Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen (2011), Bergen Kunsthall (2010), Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2010), and Bonner Kunstverein (2009).

The exhibition is supported by the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung and the friends of the Kestner Gesellschaft.

Curators of the exhibition: Christina Végh and Lea Altner