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Arnulf Rainer

At the end of the 1960s, the Avant-Garde movements (artists, writers, moviemakers) develop a more conceptual practice of photography, using the medium to record their artistic performances. In 1968-1969, Arnulf Rainer, Austrian artist trained in the context of the Vienna Actionists, chooses the photobooth to document his physiognomic explorations in order to create a repertory of extreme expressions ignored by society. Rainer finds a great interest in Surrealism and applies that same principle of automatism in this series of self-portraits; and in using this technique requiring no human intervention, he somewhat denies his status as author. In the same way that he mixes drawing and photography, Rainer associates two seemingly contradictory representational modes: the intensity of his performance contrasts with the automatic nature of the recording mode; the direct reference to the Vienna Actionists and their attempt to go beyond American abstract expressionism. (Credit: Sans titre (Automatenportraits-Portraits automatiques)© Arnulf Rainer / Courtesy Galerie m Bochum)