Women, 1997 – 1999

Before the turn of the century Michael Schmidt embarked on a series of portraits of young men and women. He finally concentrated on women of the younger generation, shooting portraits and photographs of their bodies, both fully dressed and undressed. In Michael Schmidt’s view, these women’s self-awareness was increasingly translating itself into a new conception of the body. His photographs put the downward levelling of individuality centre stage as the consequence of socially mediated norms and ideals. These make themselves felt in a wide range of areas, from the choice of outer garments and underwear to the stylisation of the body, literally inscribing themselves on people’s physical appearance, posture and bearing as imprints, scars and traumata.

That Schmidt interpreted these phenomena as the formative collective experience of an entire generation was evident from his exhibitions of the Frauen group of works. He presented them as a block or tableau, emphasising what this age group have in common instead of the individual. On close inspection this group of works is revealed as explicitly political, adding another aspect to Schmidt’s preoccupation with the role of the individual in society.

In 2000 Michael Schmidt published the Frauen (Women) series in an artists’ book of the same name. At the 6th Berlin Biennale 2010 he showed select motifs in the form of full-page ads in national newspapers and as posters in public space.