Winner of the Baloise Art Prize 2016.
Sara Cwynar’s composite photographs of found objects and images court feelings of time passing. Using studio sets, collage, and re-photography, she produces intricate tableaux that draw from magazine advertisements, postcards, or catalogs.
Cwynar is interested in how design and popular images work on our psyches, in how their visual strategies infiltrate our consciousness. In her book, Kitsch Encyclopedia (2013), she considers how familiar, sentimental images smooth over unpleasant realities, to cover up “the systems of control embedded within our social, economic, and political lives.”
She presents dated commercial images to expose the failure, with time, of their visual trickery and the waning of their seductive powers. Her works highlight how the once familiar becomes foreign; how the fetishized object loses its luster; how glamour fades.
Among her key works are sculptural constructions that are photographed, printed, tiled, and re-photographed; images taken from darkroom manuals that are deconstructed using a scanner; and stock photographs that are collaged by hand and then re-photographed. Cwynar’s process is, in a sense, circular: she begins and finishes with a photograph after a journey of intervention and manipulation that disrupts the smooth surface and perspective of the original.