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IntroductionNO CLEAN SLATE
Text portraits by Ralph Ueltzhoeffer
In Ralph Ueltzhoeffer’s text portraits, word and image merge in an inseparable unity. The artist, born in 1966, draws his text and pictures from the World Wide Web. The images are the end product of a grand art project over the course of 923 days dedicated to global networking and new media.
The faces, inscribed in text by the artist with their own biographies, are faces that the media has made popular, lives it has made accessible to the rest of the world – whether they like it or not. Stars of the pop and fashion world like Madonna, Kate Moss, and Serge Gainsbourg, but also illustrious figures such as the Dalai Lama and Joseph Beuys, now have written on their faces what Wikipedia, today humanity’s largest collective information source, has compiled about these selected mortals. Line for line, the letters conform to the contours of the faces, which seem astonishingly spatial and sensibly augmented by the text. These people are no “clean slates”; they have exceptional talents, wild careers, and are major successes. And for many millions of people they are exciting, a role model, hope.
Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, occupies a special place in the series. Ralph Ueltzhoeffer did not inscribe Obama’s still short biography on his face but rather only the two words “next step,” since Obama, like hardly another in our age, uses the media in innovative and successful ways.
1966 born in Mannheim-Neckarau, Germany 1996-2002 Arts degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany, Prof. Andreas Slominski and Prof. Ernst Caramelle Professional work in photography, portraiture, and painting 2002 formulated the concept of text portraits as a symbiosis of biographical text and portraiture photography 2006 initiated TEXTPORTRAIT as an artistic project, web art project lives and works in Karlsruhe and Mannheim, Germany
and in London, UKExhibitions
2008 Missing, text portraits, Cafe Europe New York, USA Missing, text portraits, Ground Zero New York, USA Missing, text portraits, Tomwell, New York, USA
Anonymity, text portraits, Marietta Neuss, London, UK
Slides, Marietta Neuss London, UK
2007 Xavier Naidoo, David Beckham and other text portraits, Asperger Gallery, Pforzheim, Germany Anonymity, text portraits, rest stop Milano Ouvest, Italy Anonymity, text portraits, rest stop St. Gotthard, Switzerland Text portraits, large-scale retail media placement, Mannheim, Germany 2006 Projections, holograms, text portraits, Montreux, Casino, Switzerland Xavier Naidoo and other text portraits, Galerie Marietta Neuss, Berlin, Germany/London, UK 2005 Gesichter dieser Stadt, large-scale retail posters, text portraits, Braunschweig, Germany Room detecting, hologram projection, Translocation Cabinet Gallery, London, UK 2004 David Beckham and other text portraits, Ann Anderson Projects, Stockholm, Sweden Room detecting, hologram projection, Translocation Cabinet Gallery, London, UK Gesichter dieser Stadt, large-scale retail posters, text portraits, Mannheim, Germany 2003 B/W photographs, Galerie Weishaupt, Montreux, Switzerland 2001 Die Geschichte von der hungernden Biene, organ factory Karlsruhe-Durlach, Germany 1999 Fotografie und Malerei, Asperger Gallery, Berlin, Germany 1998 Elvira bitte melde mich, multimedia exhibition, Karlsruhe, Germany 1997 Die Suche, with Birgit Finger and Bernd Rubriem, Kunstraum Germersheim, Germany ORM - Grafische Aspekte im Lebensraum, Mannheim-Neckarau, Germany 1995 Krupp-Foto X 94, San Diego, USA