Antje Schiffers was born in 1967. Her drawings of flowers are the result of an ambitious project. The artist used her scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service to live and work in an arbitrarily chosen town in Mexico. Preconceptions about Mexico stem from Hollywood clichés—bandits, sombreros, horses, dust and rattlesnakes. Schiffers wanted to live this cliché and break it asunder from the inside. She lived in a hut in Chicahuaxtla, a village at an altitude of 3000m. There, she began to draw the flowers that surrounded her-near her hut, on the pathway, in the mountains and on the trees. She organized her drawings according to the places where the flowers grew. These places also served as categories for her to assimilate this unknown world. The Indios who came to watch were soon willing to talk on video about the effects of the plants. In so doing, they also gave uninhibited reports about their lives. The artist speaks Spanish. As a result it was possible to eliminate some of the feelings of mutual unfamiliarity through communication as equals. She solved the classical problem of ethnologists—not to appear dominant before the «natives»—through a cooperative division of work. There were two parties of equal rank each with their own capacity—one possessed knowledge about the plants and the other had the ability to make pictures of them. These capacities complemented each other in such a way that they became a necessity for mutual cooperation. Because of this, both sides respected each other from the beginning. As can be read in old reports, the traditional way to approach natives was to exchange goods; but not as collaborative equals as in this case, in which one result is the drawing of flowers and the other result is the commentary by the Indios. In a later phase of encounters, the artist gave some of the Indios cameras. She let them photograph aspects of their lives and themselves (four photos are exhibited) and she taught them how to develop the film. In this way, she helped the Indios reflect upon themselves. They now saw their lives objectively for the first time. This can be a step toward emancipation from an immersion in archaic thought processes. The opposite concept is personified by tourists who take photos of natives and make them the objects of other people’s observation. The drawings of flowers are the visible part of a major documented work of art which includes communication with the Indios. In Schiffers’ projection, the status of the artist is not that of a small producer working for the art market, but rather that of a pioneer using unusual means to create contact with a foreign culture on the fringe of western society. The social aspect of these drawings is an intrinsic part of them. Burkhard Brunn

  1967 geb. in Heiligendorf / 2002–04 Preis des Kunstvereins Hannover; Villa-Minimo-Stipendium / 1997–99 DAAD-Stipendium, Mexiko
Ausstellungen (Auswahl)
2004 Kunstverein Hannover; Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig (E.) / 2003 Cuxhavener Kunstverein (E.) »Biografie schreiben«, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig / 2002 »bin in der Steppe», Kunstverein Wolfsburg (E.); »re-orientation«, ACC-Galerie, Weimar; »Perspektiven«, Kunstverein Hannover / 2001 »Le repubblicche dell´Arte:Germania«, Centro Arte Contemporanea, Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena / 2000 »Da wo ich war«, Konstantin Adamopoulos, Frankfurt/M. (E.); »Unhomely home«, Projekte in Wolfsburg, Kunstverein Wolfsburg

Holunder, 2002 Buntstift auf Papier 29,7 x 21 cm