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Dagmar Keller, Martin Wittwer
From March 14th 2009 to April 18th 2009
Messages passagers

Curator : Nicole Gingras

Messages passagers is the first Canadian solo exhibition for artist duo Dagmar Keller (Germany) and Martin Wittwer (Switzerland). It comprises three recent works in which the artists examine the relationship between reality and fiction and interrogate processes of perception and communication.

Say Hello to Peace and Tranquility (2001) is a constant flow of scenes shot in a quiet suburb where time seems to have stood still. A sense of timelessness is created by the smooth motion of a hidden camera and the constructed, artificial nature of the scenes: one can hardly tell if one is facing a photograph, a scale model, or an ad for a housing complex. A soundtrack by Michaela Grobelny envelops the spectator, reinforcing the impression of atemporality. Is this a utopian vision, a fiction, an illusion, a critique of urban phenomena, or simply a fascination with this disturbing tranquility? What You Want To See (2006) presents us with the facades of city buildings at dusk and the sounds of conversational fragments between a man and a woman. The urban framework serves as a conduit for an intimate communication continually scrambled and truncated by language and faulty transmission. Here too is a sense of suspension. In both these works, the scenes are devoid of human presence. The shooting of Ave Maria (2007) is more direct and unmediated, consisting of documentary shots of a busy Italian street filmed from a moving vehicle. Images of passersby drivers, and billboards converge and collapse into each other, while Ave Maria recited in a female voice lends an operatic and incantational tone to the short video.

Resting on contemplation, voyeurism, and curiosity, these three works offer a true balance between urban, social, and aesthetic concerns. Supported by impressionistic audio atmospheres that are part ironic, part oneiric, they represent a serious and masterly investigation of the power of the image on our surroundings. Architecture, urbanity, flux and mobility, relationships with the other are some of the recurring themes broached by Keller and Wittwer. Despite the many narrative elements incorporated into their work, their entire endeavour may summed up as “the experience of time.”
- Nicole Gingras

Messages passagers is the second exhibition in Listening to See, a series of exhibitions presented by Montréal curator Nicole Gingras as part of NOISE AND SILENCE 2008-2009, an interdisciplinary series of events organized by Goethe-Institut Montréal.

The exhibition is a joint endeavour by Optica and Goethe-Institut Montréal. It also receives support from the Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council.



Dagmar Keller (1972, Germany) and Martin Wittwer (1969, Switzerland) have worked together as an artist duo since 1997, gaining an international reputation for their photography, video, and installations. They have had several solo exhibitions in Europe and have taken part in group exhibitions in Europe, the Far East, and India.

Author and curator Nicole Gingras lives in Montreal. She has expressed her interests in the image and in sound through numerous exhibitions, artistic programs, and publications.