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though someone just ran across the sand. One can barely tell that these images are part of a famous portrait series, namely the photographs of Marilyn Monroe by George Barris: Pfeiffer removes the icon from the pictures, and, in place of Monroe’s image, closes the picture shut with the landscape – and therefore closes the open wound. [15] The backdrop of nature formerly the backdrop for the film star, so unspectacular that we fail to recognize it, now becomes the contents of the image, or at least superficially. But, in reality, Pfeiffer is not only concerned with recording how completely the recognition value of these images is tied to the form of Monroe; he also handles as his theme the idea of the landscape in of itself, the cliché view of the sea, and the role that nature plays in staging a film star, in itself a cliché.

Cliché and Reality, Truth and Appearance

These and similar deconstructions of clichés like those discerned in Pfeiffer’s works represent an original suggestion of contemporary photography – the unmasking of the brute design of authenticity


and objectivity, and the question of how appearance and reality relate to one another. In the process, artists deal with either analog, digital, or (post-) photographic techniques – depending on which method seems to suit the moment best. Unlike the at times outlandish forms of electronic retouching and simulations of the mid-1990s, a greater interest in subtler image interventions has meanwhile developed – interventions that irritate viewers, exaggerate photographic competence, and reformulate the question of how one distinguishes between reality and the image. In times of digital simulation technologies, the ontological status of photography can no longer be expected to play a central role anyway, since the relationships and boundaries between unmanipulated, manipulated, and simulated images suggestive of the photographic can no longer be clearly explained. By retrieving and reinterpreting classic themes of pictorial history to date, the art context makes clear to us again in how paradoxical a sense we perceive images, most of all the technically-produced ones, and how influenced we are by practiced conventions of seeing.

Although the authentic depiction is a deception,

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