Comenius Roethlisberger

"Histories and Abstracts"
Text by Moritz Neumueller, free-lance curator, Vienna and Madrid

One could regard Comenius Roethlisberger's series "Histories an Abstracts" as a continuation of his artist's portraits. In a earlier black and white series the young Swiss photographer depicted famous entertainers, rappers, rock groups and artists.
Amongst them were Pipilotti Rist, INXS, Ice-T, Ringo Starr, Sinead O'Connor and Faith No More. Metallica's rehearsal rooms, Wolfgang Tillman's darkroom or Björk's Nursery represent the life and creativity of those people into whose private sphere the photographer has advanced. But there is also other walls in this series. For example the walls alluding to the structures of the art institutions like Tate Gallery, Conference Room, or Saatchi Gallery, Wall behind Damien Hirst's Bronze Figure.
One is justifiably reminded by these pictures of the photos by Candida Hoefer of conference rooms, waiting rooms and museums.

Perhaps the most interesting, because richest in connotations, of the walls are those from society's non-places like porn cinemas for example or prison cells. Prima facie, and sometimes even at closer inspection, these subversive pictures cannot be distinguished from the "more harmless" interior shots like the elephant house of the Basel zoo. The different titles of the photographs result in completely differing emotional landscapes connected with the stories of the respective location und thus revealing themselves to the viewer of the life-sized colour photographs.

The picture possible doing justice to the series' title the best photograph, taken in the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, of the empty wall where usually hang Monet's water lily paintings. In a legendary article from 1967 about Jackson Pollock, the critic William Rubin consults Monet's three-part work for comparative purposes and arrives at the conclusion that it shows a paradigm shift in painting. These paintings are not to be read anymore as window to the world but as walls. Whether the photographer is privy to this history of abstraction is of no importance. Maybe his main concern was the relationship between painting and title (the original water lily wall sign sticks still to its original place), the original's sublimeness or the invisible presence of the work in its accustomed location. However, it is for sure that also the work of the young photographer underwent a paradigm shift which distinguishes his new works as much from the earlier series as from the work series of Candida Hoefer and other representatives of the Duesseldorf school.

curriculum vitae
comenius roethlisberger, june 26th 1971, basel, switzerland


2005 "ARC0" represented by galeria luis adelantado, valencia, spain

selected singleshows

single show "in a public space", london, uk (curated by urs graber)
single show "images6", „histories & abstracts“ vevey, switzerland
single show "book for bush", thalia, hamburg, germany

single show "contemporary art museum municipal of madrid", spain
single show "galerie chateau d'eau", toulouse, france
single show "galerie bis heute", bern, switzerland

2004 single show "parkhaus storchen", basel, curated by sabine rühle, switzerland

single show "gallery schoeneck", riehen, switzerland
single show "la luna", basel, switzerland

single show "gallery schoeneck", riehen, switzerland

single show "city pictures" at schwenk, stuttgart, germany

selected group shows

group show "soiree shot“, voltahalle basel, switzerland
group show "regionale7" installation with claudio del principe, mulhouse, france
group show "bern - leipzig" bern, switzerland
group show „lumas“ berlin, germany
group show „lichtfeld6“, „stickers“ with claudio del principe, basel, switzerland
group show „lichtfeld6“, „sweetest invitation, dearest constellation“, basel, switzerland
group show „lichtfeld6“, „book for bush“, basel switzerland

group show "farmani gallery of contemporary photography“, los angeles, usa
group show „palm springs fotofestival“, usa
group show "international photographyfestival", rome, italy
group show "krakow photography month & fotofestival lodz", poland
group show "fotofestival arles", arles, france
group show "Photographic Centre Nykyaika" tampere, finnland
group show "regionale6" installation with claudio del principe, riehen, schweiz
group show "fotosommer stuttgart", stuttgart, germany
group show "open art" installation with claudio del principe, bellinzona, schweiz
group show "lichtfeld 5" installation with claudio del principe, basel, switzerland
group show "aeschlimann corti stiftung" artmuseum bern, switzerland
group show "ausstellungsraum klingental" basel, switzerland
group show "leipzig - bern" artmuseum leipzig, germany
group show „new entries of visarte at "m54" basel, switzerland
group show "gallery sackofsky" heidelberg, gemany

group show "galeria luis adelantado", valencia, spain
group show "photoespagna04", winner of "newcomer of the year", spain
group show "lichtfeld 4" installation with claudio del principe, basel, switzerland
group show "table gallery", basel, switzerland

group show "photoespagna03", madrid, spain
group show "regionale4”, at projektraum m54, basel, switzerland
group show "lichtfeld3", basel, switzerland
group show "the selection", basel, chur, st.gallen and zurich, switzerland

group show "expo02 (swiss national exhibition) in der heimatfabrik", murten, switzerland
group show "regionale02" kunstraum riehen, basel, switzerland
group show "lichtfeld2", basel, switzerland

group show "the selection", basel, chur, st. gallen and zurich, switzerland
group show "lichtfeld1" in basel, switzerland
group show "gallery schoeneck", riehen, switzerland

participations and awards

- nomination for the „deutsche börse photography prize 2006“ at the photographer’s gallery, london, uk
- 1. prize at the IPA photoawards, category abstracts, los angeles, 2005
- nomination for the first prize, arles, voies off, 2005
- aeschlimann corti stiftung, artmuseum bern, 2005
- grants by departement for edudcation and arts, basel- stadt, switzerland, 2005
- member of "visarte" switzerland", 2005
- byings by the museum "MUSAC" museo de arte contemporaneo de castilla y leon", 2005
- winner of the descrubimientos (newcomer of the year) at "photoespagna04",
madrid, spain, 2004
- grants by departement for edudcation and arts, basel- stadt, switzerland, 2004
- byings by art-comission basel-stadt and basel-land, switzerland, 2004
- 2nd place, «london photography art award 2003», london, uk, 2003
- participation «the selection 2003 vfg», zurich
- participation "photoespagna04", madrid, spain
- participation "photoespagna03", madrid, spain
- «the selection 2001 vfg», public award, 3rd place, zürich, switzerland
- participation «the selection 2001 vfg», zurich, switzerland
- rolling stone magazine, germany, 2nd price, hamburg, germany
- swatch and bike 1999, 1st price, stuttgart, germany


- «cataloque» "limages6"», vevey, switzerland, 2006
- «baz» article, dearest constellation, sweetest invitation“ basel, switzerland, 2006
- «baslerstab» front-article, „dearest constellation, sweetest invitation“ basel,
switzerland, 2006
- «baslerstab» front-article, „book for bush“ basel, switzerland, 2006
- book, photoawards, los angeles, 2005
- «cataloque» "lichtfeld6"», basel, switzerland
- «art-magazine 50_easy» "madrid, spain (july, 2005)
- «vanidad / magazine» "book, spain, worldwide (may, 2005)
- «cataloque» "book, fotosommer stuttgart"», germany
- «cataloque» "histories & abstracts"», basel, switzerland
- «cataloque» "lichtfeld5"», basel, switzerland
- «cataloque» "lichtfeld4"», basel, switzerland
- «official cataloque» photoespagna05», madrid, spain
- «photonews» article, review 12/2003, germany
- «EXPO02» (swiss national exhibition 2002), catalogue «heimatfabrik»
- «EXPO02» book on the swiss national exhibition 2002
- «basler zeitung», article by heinz eckert: "was ist richtig, was ist falsch?"
- «basler zeitung», heinz eckert: reproduction of the competition photo «swatch and bike»
- «the selection vfg.2003», catalogue
- «the selection vfg.2001», catalogue











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