The artist Lisl Ponger (b. Nuremberg, DE, 1947) is the recipient of the 2017 Otto Breicha Prize for Artistic Photography. The Museum der Moderne Salzburg has given out an award for fine art photography since 1983, billed as “Rupertinum Photography Award” until 2001 and “Otto Breicha Prize for Artistic Photography—Museum der Moderne Salzburg” since 2007. It honors an artist born or residing in Austria who has made significant contributions to fine art photography.
Professione: Fotografa (Profession: Photographer) is the title the artist chose for her exhibition, alluding to Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1975 motion picture Professione: Reporter (released in English as The Passenger), a thriller exploring epistemological problems, questions of responsibility, and the relation between artist and work. A photographer by training, Ponger launched her career as an artist in the early 1970s, working with photography and film to scrutinize patterns apparent in the displays in ethnological museums and representations of alien as well as familiar cultures that have persisted since the nineteenth century. Photography was the medium through which, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Europeans transmitted the “new” world—the foreign—into their homes and at once asserted their supremacy over it. In photographs such as Teilnehmende Beobachterin (Participant Observer, 2016), the artist uses theatrical staging and exaggeration to showcase tenacious stereotypes, racisms, and scopic constructions. Under the label MuKul, the name of her own fictional museum, Ponger also collects items of Western everyday culture and trinkets from tourist souvenir shops that attest to how people engage with foreign cultures.
Divided into three chapters, the exhibition surveys Ponger’s oeuvre, including several new large-format photographic tableaus. The artist’s early films will be shown in a screening room. A separate area will be reserved for the installation The Master Narrative and Don Durito (2017), which Ponger created for the Weltmuseum in Vienna.