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Rudolf Bonvie


Vorstellungsbilder und Seestücke (Imaginings and Seascapes)


“Rudolf Bonvie is not a photographer, but has been working primarily with the photographic image medium since the mid-1970s. In the early phase, he used photography to illustrate the function of photographic fidelity and its influence on our perception or the resulting action. From this media-critical approach, Bonvie developed an analytical working method for which he used the instant image, the interlocking of photo and text and often also the video installation. From his central preoccupation with the applied photographic image as a pillar of the mass media, Bonvie in the late 1970s made references to the power of the image in the form of monumental reproductions, sometimes altered by partial covering of the image, supplemented by texts or altered by exemption from the original media context.” (Ute Eskildsen, 1988)
Rudolf Bonvie categorically reverses the photographically reproduced image of a real place, an event, the portrait of a person, etc., all these moments that are defined in terms of content, clearly determined as information, which in conventional dealings with the medium of photography, as with all other reproductive media, can only be grasped and given as a section of a reality. Out of a multiplicity of image- i.e. thought- and/or memory-splinters formulated in terms of content, which are consciously bound into an image surface format, he gives the cut-out character a different, new, positive i.e. creative sense. In conventional photography, the detail is always perceived as a lack, as a limitation, as a shameful separation from the wholeness of reality, which we largely grasp holistically with our senses, especially with the eye, but which we only actually perceive selectively and store as information in the brain. Rudolf Bonvie draws an artistic consequence of great consequence from these physiological conditions of perception and seeing. He frees photography from the shackles of having to reproduce reality only to please our visual habits. With a “minor” categorical re-evaluation of a formal condition without which photography does not function, he succeeds not only in radically changing and expanding the framework of action and meaning, but also in finally putting photography on an equal footing with the other autonomous visual arts of painting, drawing, sculpture and graphic techniques. (Andreas Vowinckel, 1990).
An overview of Bonvie’s production – from the “Fotoromanen” in 1979 to the “Vorstellungsbildern” in 1993 – becomes an overview of contemporary photography and its theoretical history, from Walter Benjamin to Susan Sonntag. Only documentary photography does not appear in Bonvie’s work. But there is no such thing anyway. (Heiner Peter Schwerfel, 1994)

Mit freundlicher Unterstützung von Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart, Generalkonsulat der Bundesrepublik, Salzburg