We are hell
In three photographical works Michael Appelt analyzes relationships. An examination with
the relation to himself (Dying) and the relation to the people he loves (Living). The third part
is about the observance of another one (Existence).
Relationships are ambivalent. On the one hand they mean closeness, confidence, security, happiness and home. On the other hand they are affected by the latent fear that everything is going to turn into the opposite. Origin of desperation, downfall, breakdown and loss.
In none of Michael Appelts works a definite story is being told, rather you feel a certain mood, which could tip over from one minute to the other – or not so.
Effectively it is an attempt to crystallize the inner mental processes out of the outer visible incidents.
“Say what you are. Not what you would like to be. Not what you have to be. Just say what you are. And what you are is good enough“ John Cassavetes
In the matrimonial bed with his mother. In the parental kitchen with a plastic bag over his head. Crucified head first in an empty soccer stadium. Michael Appelt photographed himself.
The conceptual precise, highly dramatic pictures reflect a profound process of creation: For four years Appelt was engaged with the issues that form the basis of the photos, and analyzed his relations to people and rooms. With those works he leaves the secure observer status of the photographer, takes the step into the picture and his story with him. The photos are most intense when he arranges things with himself, when he himself is in the center and when he is not just an observer. A hard process because it is brutally honest.
For the double-portrait with his mother “The dead father I”, the matrimonial bed proved as the right place to evidence the absence of the early passed away father. Slowly they approached until the mother, wearing her wedding dress, was able to let go – the moment of this inverted pietà-position was captured precisely.
Suicide was another subject Appelt was dealing with. A lot of people take their lives in familiar rooms. Eventually he found the suitable picture: handcuffed in the parental kitchen, a plastic bag over his head. A game with the yearning for death and the yearning for life, in the moment of the decision: It could work. Or in the last second you decide in favour of life.
For the picture “I am not worthy” Appelt let himself be crucified in a Viennese soccer stadium – headfirst, just like Peter once. The sports venue turns to a modern Colosseum, the crucifixion to a symbol of self-betrayal in front of empty balconies.
The photos are subsumed to three thematic blocks: examination with the relation to oneself (Dying), with the relation to the beloved ones (Living) and eventually with the observation of another one (Existence).
Appelt`s works do not stay captured in pure self-reflection; the archetypal settings force the beholder to position himself opposite to the displayed.