The Book of Back is a book and site specific installations. It was inspired by my parents who left Germany for Australia in 1967. A superb adventure via sea became a working holiday and then a life in Australia.
This artist book and installation poignantly evoke the immigrant’s sense of dislocation from their homeland, underpinned by the poetic idea of Zerissenheit – being torn between lands, between worlds, or simply being torn. Bec Dean, Curator Australian Centre for Photography
Nearby there’s an old white wardrobe. You open it, enter and find yourself in the ACP’s back gallery and, like Alice, somewhere even stranger. This bedroom is a haunted hearth, its book a bubbling cauldron of the unconscious. The raw physicality of Stellmach’s objects and her room’s threatening darkness conjures other states of being that take us into and beyond ourselves. It’s quite an experience. Keith Gallasch, Realtime #81, Australia, 2007
Stellmach seeks out contemporary realisations for timeless themes – for tragedies, fears and anxieties.
Astrid Mania, Writer & Critic
Stellmach’s works blend documentary and fiction with a strong personal voice, utilising a constellation of media to tell intimate stories about the transience of life. It is this consistent interest in the emotional layers of her conceptual works that sets her apart. Celina Lunsford, Artistic Director Fotografie Forum Frankfurt
The ambivalence between the personal, historical and imaginary is what distinguishes Stellmach’s work.
Julia G. Schneider, Von Hundert Berlin
In Stellmach’s multifaceted, bold and provocative works she confronts the viewer with complex narratives in which she intertwines the personal with public, reality with fiction, and truth with dream. Barbara Auer, Director Kunstverein Ludwigshafen
The Book of Back forms part of a sparse, theatrical installation. With its three acts, the 112-page artist book can be likened to a play or a portmanteau film. Alongside Stellmach’s prose is imagery created from Super 8 home movies, found images and staged photography. Dieter Brookmann, Art Observer Berlin, May 2007 issue
Stellmach’s The Book of Back illustrates how the construction of self, in the sense of a narrative identity, is created as a dialogue: Such narratives connect past experiences with the present and emphasise that identity is negotiated via a process of ceaseless redefinitions. Claudia Marion Stemberger, Writer & Curator
Cultural swap with a sting. Festival highlight. Sydney Morning Herald
This installation which encompasses two works from The Book of Back, the film Oi Oi Oi which appears at irregular intervals from under a crooked bed and the poster-like photographic print Sewing Calms Me Down is analogous for a child’s room as both a space of remembrance and social commentary. Frank Motz, Director ACC Galerie Weimar
The filmic nightmare Oi Oi Oi with its escalating unease finds itself like all monsters, under the bed. Sitting between longing and fearing, the visuals – super8 movie footage shot by Stellmach and her parents – become more and more disconcerting. The score incorporates a lone piano, a live AC/DC recording, the sound of drunks singing the Australian national anthem and a young girl whispering taunts. Dieter Brookmann, Art Observer Berlin, April 2007 issue
Natascha Stellmach: The Book of Back
21.5 x 16.5 cm, hardcover, 108 pages
Texts by Astrid Mania & Scott Millwood
in English & German (accompanying flyer)
Two editions produced totalling 900 copies.
Published by: Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin, 2007
Regular Edition: 777, (Au$ 45 / 28 €)
Limited Edition: 123, boxed, signed, stamped, hand stitching with family photograph + DVD, gloves ($ on Enquiry)
The work was created at Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin where Stellmach was Australia Council for the Arts resident artist from 2006 to 2007.
Supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council
In her imagery, Stellmach frequently brings to the surface, those things most would rather leave unspoken. … a suicide is implied in the third act of The Book of Back – in a book within a book – in addition to a surreal and bizarre tale where Bon Scott, Adolf Hitler, Kurt Cobain, Diane Arbus, a dog and the Brothers Grimm meet in an outlandish twilight zone. Astrid Mania, Writer & critic
(more) INSTALLATION VIEWS
Espace Culturel Beauvais | Kunstverein Ludwigshafen | Fotogalerie Wien | Halle 14 Leipzig | ACC Galerie Weimar | Herrmann & Wagner Berlin | ACP Sydney | Künstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin |
SELECTED ESSAYS & PRESS
Barbara Auer – Mythos Kindheit: Natascha Stellmach, Kerber Verlag | (Deutsch)
Margret Uhrmeister – The Book of Back Rezension für ‘200 Fotobücher, Fotografie Forum Frankfurt’ | (Deutsch)
Claudia Marion Stemberger – Identität I: Biografie | Fotogalerie Wien (Deutsch) & English
Frank Motz – Terra Nullius: Contemporary Art from Australia | (Deutsch)
Astrid Mania – Mise en Abyme, Natascha Stellmachs poetische Brechungen | (Deutsch) & English
Scott Millwood – The Book of Back Foreword | (English) & Deutsch