In the centre of the observed surface, the asphalt is cracked. Lumpy black scraps have rolled into the light-coloured sand. The same roadside has been patched before. The crack has appeared in the new patch. To the left of it, a piece of turf is missing. It looks as if the grass has burned. Behind the crack, there are a yellow line, asphalt, another yellow line, a bit of turf and a forest with a clearing in the background. There are also a white roadside marker and a dark grey stick supporting a traffic sign. There are no people. No animals. No cars. It is quiet, but this stillness is not pleasant.
The photographer has selected and preserved this image. He chose it several times. He chose the scene, the negative and the photograph to use in a cycle and an exhibition. Does the photographer know more than we do?
The photograph does not acknowledge where it has been taken, or why. The image of the crack in the asphalt does not say why it is here; it merely tells what it is: “I am an image of a crack in the asphalt. I am an imprint of a real object and now I am an image on paper. I do not know why I am here, but I do want you to observe me. I want to be looked at. I want to show that I am.”
Not only The Crack, but all photographs by Peter Rauch contain “something” that – as an unpleasant gift of sorts – creeps into the viewer who complies with the wish of the image. This “something” can be revealed precisely because the images, searched for and selected by the photographer, represent the familiar, the unattractive or the banal, while at the same time they are not undemanding. They state nothing but what they are. This clarity makes it possible for latency to gradually disappear and give way to an unpleasant sense of foreboding during observation. While looking at these images, we are gradually inhabited by unease.
The photographer prepared an event in which photography and performance were brought into play – a performance of photographic production. One medium moved into the other and out of it again in an interesting way. In Objects and the Event, the event about transfers between means of expression has been transformed into the images of images that depicted the event. What the photographer was left with after the event became the material for the staging you are observing in its new incarnation – in photography. The experience no longer exists, whereas the images have been re-mediated so many times that their signified has become dubious for the viewer. The sense of instability that pervades the viewed produces the unease that distinguishes Rauch’s photography.
The unease is, of course, also part of the “problematic social reality that extends beyond the exhibition space”; however, we cannot confront it there, for we are fighting the windmills of reality on a daily basis. The purity of the choice of object in photography makes it easier for us to focus on the primary experience of unease, which is becoming more and more present in this historical moment. Objects and the Event offer guidance to our attention by means of feeling and thinking – which is probably the only truly socially beneficial function that art can offer.