Fine Art Photographer, Birthe Piontek creates stunning images that investigate the relationship between memory and identity. Additionally, her work explores the representation of the female identity in society. Birthe’s series Lying Still examines the concept of the self, sexuality, mortality, intimacy, the constant evolution of relationships and roles. Birthe considers her relationship to the camera as an artist, while she is observing and while she is being observed.
Found press images from the 50s and 60s are included. These images include women performing and modeling, natural disasters and other dark scenes used to drive a layered dialogue. These conversations ask questions that consider the representation of women and their relationship to the camera, something that spans over many generations. “Through the blending of created and found imagery, my work points towards collective experience and exposes the desires, urges and fears that exist latently in our subconscious and reveal themselves against the backdrop of the domestic space.”
The image titled Bathtub illustrates for the viewer, an everyday scene. Objects and positioning used as symbolism skew the viewers idea of the everyday. These interferences to the everyday routine are present throughout Lying Still. An image from the series titled Bowl is perhaps bolder in the way it confronts this. The subject, leaning over a table has her head partially submerged in a glass bowl of water. The water, through the glass bowl magnify the woman’s mouth and nose, yet we’re unable to see her eyes. The viewer can infer several conclusions regarding Bowl. Another way Birthe contributes to this psychological landscape is the image titled Trouts. Two whole trout fish have been frozen into a glass shaped ice cube. One is facing up and the other’s face his hidden, buried in the ice. A reocurring theme through the series is a landscape of hidden faces.
In addition to photography, Birthe also works with other mediums including installation, collage, and sculpture. She is especially drawn to create work that explores the degree to which identities can be visualized. Birthe received her MFA from the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany. She currently resides in Vancouver, Canada where she is an Assistant Professor at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. More of Birthe’s work can be found on her website at including Abendlied, which received the Edward Burtynsky Grant in 2018 and was on the TIME’s list of 30 Best Photo Books of 2019.