Ever since Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler started working
together as an artistic duo in the mediums of sculpture, photography,
and film, they have had a particular interest in giving their art a
narrative dimension. Yet their narrations are almost always fragmentary,
in suspended animation as it were, like the objects in the multipart
photographic series “Falling Down” (1996). Bank notes, ladies’ shoes, a
coffee cup, and a book all slipping from people’s grasp attest to the
loss of control by male and female protagonists. It is as if, by means of
meticulous stage direction, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive
moment”—the moment captured in a photograph that usually remains
hidden from the naked eye—were here being shown to be a myth.
Hubbard / Birchler’s staged scenarios are first and foremost analog
images constructed for the camera; utilizing an explicitly cinematographic
language they evoke specific mini-dramas—as in the case
of the young man who has just alighted from a Greyhound Bus with
all his worldly goods, seemingly ready to embark on a new life.
Hubbard / Birchler’s interest in an affirmative language of pop
culture is seen again in “Stripping” (1998), their next, large-format
photographic series, in which it seems we are given glimpses of the
female protagonist in a private, ambivalent moment. The artificiality of
the film set along with the vertical and horizontal bands dividing
particular images inevitably activate the potential for illusion associated
with cinema and moving pictures. Thus it hardly comes as a surprise
that not long afterward Hubbard / Birchler turned their attention
to cinema facades in their “Filmstills” (2002), and started to work on
video and film projects.
In so doing Hubbard / Birchler neither altered their pictorial
language, nor did they abandon their practice of staging images.
Right from the outset, through their photographs and films, their works
have always served them as a means to engage in an analytic
exploration of the limits of the medium in question. Hubbard / Birchler
have always been fascinated by the margins of photography, by the
lack of focus of this medium, which both produces meaning and
instigates a narrative moment, as do the objects suspended in mid-air
in “Falling Down. ” Hubbard / Birchler use the medium’s autonomy
to reinforce the suggestive powers of their cinematic language and, in
so doing, create mysterious, poetic images.