Ulrike Schmitz

Model Shift

Works Bio

Ulrike Schmitz addresses the nature of science and art and their relationship with each other. Her photographs ask questions, such as: What is reality, what fiction? What do we really know, to what extent do we accept scientific findings as reality? How can reality be represented in an appropriate way? One of the photos presented here (the last one in our series) works with a mathematical formula for a central law of the way the financial world is functioning; on an endless number of papers the formula is illustrated and proven. The global financial crisis, however, demonstrated that the formula resulted in wrong evaluations. In a corresponding way, the attached picture frame is tilted – both the formula and the frame are „false“.

Art and science are often mentioned in the same breath, particularly in government bureaucracies that tend to administer them in one department. Yet the tacit understanding is that both disciplines are of highly different, almost opposite characters: on the one side the exact science where everything can be measured and verified, on the other the fine arts, belonging to the realm of the intuitive and emotional. Ulrike Schmitz has worked in both fields, she studied cultural theory and holds a doctorate in law, and she started her artistic work as a documentary photographer.

In this series of photographs she transfers outdated scientific models into her own artistic language. Her starting point are images and models by which scientists substantiate their theories. For instance, computer tomographic pictures are used to support the hemisphere model of a bipolar world view: accordingly the left half of the brain is responsible for the rational, analytical and logical, the right side for the artistic, creative, emotional. This model, however, is outdated, the scientists were mistaken – a paradigm shift occurs. Ulrike Schmitz calls this process „model shift,“ a term she adopts as a title for her photographs. She has made use of the outdated hemisphere model in her work several times.

Her approach is like a far reaching circle. The starting point is science and its condensation of reality into symbols, tangible ones, like the atom model, or mathematical formulae. This knowledge Ulrike Schmitz acquires in lengthy research, in extended reading – only, in a third step, to repress her findings. Finally, she transforms the remaining „intuitive knowledge“ in a kind of performance into enigmatic installations that document her inner state, her inner world.

Thus these photographs circle around different possibilities of understanding and representing the world, and they emphasise the artistic, intuitive way that might offer a more appropriate truth – a truth as we know it from myths, religion or fairy tales. Thanks to the exact documentary photographs, the images created by Ulrike Schmitz can be named precisely in each detail, their meaning, however, remains open – unless the artist gives us information about the scientific model the picture is based upon. But will this help us to understand the meaning of the photographs? Or shouldn’t we better follow our intuition?

Please see some of the works in our exhibitions Just Photographs and Figures & Faces, Part 1.



1975born in Rostock
2012Ostkreuzschule for Photography
2015reGeneration3, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland
2016PLAT(T)FORM, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland
Art in context, Universität der Künste, Berlin

Lives and works in Berlin since 2007.

Exhibitions (Selection)

S = Solo show

2016reGeneration3, QUAD Gallery, Derby, UK; Centro Nacional de las Artes, Mexico City
Les Boutographies, Rencontres Photographiques de Montpellier, France
MIXTAPE, K.K. fon Stricka villa, Riga Photomonth, Lithuania
 2015Nominee Prix Voies Off, Arles, France
reGeneration3, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland; Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico
[past] looking [past], art foundation metamatic:taf, Athens
Head On Photo Festival, Sydney
Adaptation, Journées photographiques de Bienne, Switzerland
Der Greif, curated by Kim Knoppers, Foam Museum Amsterdam
ISSP International Masterclass, Kuldiga, Lithuania
Just Another Photo Festival, New Delhi
 2014Circulation(s), Le CENTQUATRE-PARIS, Paris; Historical Museum, Sofia, Bulgaria
Photoville, New York
Museum Deiner Erinnerung, German-Russian Museum, Berlin (E)
Les Boutographies, Rencontres Photographiques de Montpellier, France
The Metro Exhibition, Copenhagen Photo Festival
International Photo Festival Leiden, Netherlands
 2013 Voies Off, Sélections 2013, Arles, France
Museum Deiner Erinnerung, exposure twelve, Berlin (E)
Im Lauf der Zeit, Ministry for Science and Art, Wiesbaden, Germany
 2012NEAR by Night, Swiss association for contemporary photography, Lausanne, Switzerland
FLOOD WALL, exposure twelve, Berlin; Galerie CONS ARC, Chiasso, Schweiz; Manifesto Festival, Toulouse, France
echos, Ostkreuzschule, Berlin

For further information please see the website of the artist.
Also: Photography in Berlin
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