With keen and objective precision, Peter Granser focuses in his color photographs, taken in Texas in 2006/2007, on the plethora of relics and signs that proliferate across the landscape and provide us with insights into the strange and contradictory state of contemporary US identity.
In a conference room at Fort Hood military base, the US Army's biggest army base, two clocks indicate the time in the USA and in Iraq. The whiteboard beneath them is empty, like there is nothing to say, no plans to be made, except for a doodle of a little girl in the corner, smiling and pretending that everything is in order. Plastic cups pressed into the holes of a fence in front of supply containers spell out a welcome home for soldiers returning from Iraq. JOB WELL DONE is the message, in the colors of the American flag. A flag also adorns the legendary NASA moon rocket Saturn V in Houston, but it is covered by a clear plastic tarp. Oil derricks, traditional symbol of the wealth of the Texan oil magnates, survive in Midland only as silhouettes lined up on a mural decorating the side of a high rise in an empty city. A mass religious event in America's biggest megachurch, composed by Granser in the form of a monumental triptych, is staged as a faceless place where the human individual no longer has any value. Salvation takes precedence.
Emptiness and stagnation dominate the atmosphere in this photo series resonant with skepticism, which in its formal qualities and motifs deliberately makes reference to the work of various American documentary photographers (Walker Evans, William Eggleston, Henry Wessel). ›Signs‹ adds a new chapter to this legacy, depicting present-day Texas as an intellectually ossified realm where rigorous puritanical devoutness mixes with capitalist and patriotic interests to create a menacing brew.
With an unmistakable style that uses the medium-sized square format and is inspired by tendencies in the New Documents, New Topographics and New Color Photography movements, Peter Granser reveals in his ›Signs‹ a level of political engagement and knowledge that allows him to incisively illuminate a significant aspect of contemporary society.
Dr. Christoph Schaden