Jigsaw Puzzles

Jigsaw Puzzles

Ground Zero (New York, Sept 16 2001), 2005 

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle w/ 8000 pcs, 136 x 192 cm

PHOTO CREDIT: Viviane Moos / SIPA PRESS

Private collection, New York

 

The Most Beautiful Disasters in the World

In his ongoing series, "The most beautiful disasters in the world", Christoph Draeger transfers digitally reprocessed press images of great destruction onto large format jigsaw puzzles (with up to 8000 pieces).  From the flood of media images, which we keep consuming in ever accelerating speed, and which tend to annihilate each other through their sheer number, Draeger carefully chooses his subjects, turning them into icons. They appear enlarged on jigsaw puzzles, a support that usually is associated with idyllic landscapes and the slow and painstaking process of its construction.  It's the paradox of constructing destruction, and the slowness of this symbolic reconstruction that is fascinating the artist. Catastrophes receive short-lived attention, like snapshots, but the supposed immediacy of communication,  so-called live coverage - puts an equally immediate end to the discourse. 

For some, Draeger's treatment of those images might read as merely redoubling the cynicism his choice of images suggests. Instead, it gives form to the complexities of our response to these media-borne pictures that might never come to consciousness otherwise. 

In "TWA 800#6 (Calverton, Long Island, NY, 1998)" (2005), the assembled puzzle rhymes directly with the contents of the image: the fuselage of the destroyed 747 sitting in a hangar, partially reassembled from recovered debris. The work also expresses the wish to understand what went wrong and the impossible dream of seeing the accident's harm repaired. At the end of the exacting and exasperating process all that is revealed is the image —  a doppelganger — of the original object. As with news-media images, Draeger asks whether this reconstructed image can be trusted.
The jigsaw treatment objectifies the power of mediation to fabricate responses for us, perhaps postponing or precluding us from knowing what, if anything, we actually do feel in reaction to catastrophes we take in from a distance in space or time. Can we -- or do we unknowingly -- fabricate emotions we deem appropriate to horrific events, if we happen not to feel them? How could we make such an uncomfortable discovery? These and related discomfiting questions underlie Draeger's seemingly flippant use of painful material. 

In his use of the puzzle format, Draeger no doubt makes conscious reference to the early '90s puzzle prints of the influential American conceptualist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957-1996). But Gonzalez-Torres used the puzzle as a metaphor for the desire to know the whole story behind a fragment of public information or private expression. Draeger sets the triviality of the picture puzzle against images of dreadful events to evoke the pull between cold curiosity and instinctive recoil that such events trigger. 

 

(This text was compiled with excerpts from "Apocalypse, Now?" by Christoph Doswald, for the catalogue of "Cinema, Cinema", Van Abbe museum Eindhoven Feb 1999/ "Destroy & Reclaim: Artists and Disaster Sites" by Jeffrey Hughes for the New Art Examiner 2002/ “Christoph Draeger’s jigsawed photos of tragedies give viewer lots to puzzle over,” Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, 2004/ and a undated text by Vanessa Joan Mueller, found on the web)

 

 

Lakehurst, New Jersey, 1937 (Hindenburg) 2003 

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle w/8000 pcs, 136x196 cm

Private collection 

TWA 800 #4 (Reconstruction in Calverton, Long Island, 1998), 2002

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle w/8000 pcs, 136x196 cm

Private collection, Omaha

 

 

Coca Cola, Ground Zero (New York, Sept 11 2001), 2003 

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle, 96x136  cm

PHOTO CREDIT: Doug Kanter / SIPA PRESS

Private collection, New York

 

Dokumenta 0, Kassel, 1945 2000 

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle w/7500 pcs, 96x250 cm

Collection Ringier, Zurich

Lockerbie 1988 2003 

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle w/8000 pcs, 136x196 cm

Collection Maja Oeri, Schaulager, Basel

Ground Zero (New York, Sept 11 2001), 2005 

Ultraviolet print on jigsaw puzzle w/ 8000 pcs, 136 x 192 cm

Photo credit: Deborah Hardt / SIPA PRESS

Courtesy of Y-gallery, New York and Lokal 30, Warsaw

Ground Zero, New York, Sep 11 2001 (After James Nachtway), 2007

Ultraviolet print on jigsaw puzzle 2x5000 pcs, 178 x 232 cm framed 

Courtesy of Y-gallery, New York and Lokal 30, Warsaw

Nagasaki, Aug 9 1945 (2008)

Ultraviolet print on jigsaw puzzle (8000 pcs), 156 x 216 cm

Collection of APT Global, New York

 

Sampoong Department Store Collapse, Seoul 1995, 2005

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle, 192x272 cm

16'000 pieces (diptych, 2x 8000 pieces)

West collection, Pennsylvania

Kobe Earthquake, 2003 

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle w/4000 pcs, 96x136 cm

Collection of APT Global, Paris

Turkey Earthquake (2006)

Ultraviolet print on jigsaw puzzle (5000 pcs, framed), 126 x 174 cm

Collection of APT Global, Paris

Hurricane David 2003 

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle w/4000 pcs, 96x136 cm

Collection of Centre National de la Photographie, Paris

 

Bijlmermeer, 2008

Ultraviolet print on jigsaw puzzle (5000 pcs, framed), 126 x 174 cm

Courtesy of Y-gallery, New York and Lokal 30, Warsaw

Enschede 2003

Ultraviolet print on jigsaw puzzle (5000 pcs, framed), 126 x 174 cm

Courtesy of Y-gallery, New York and Lokal 30, Warsaw

Colombia Earthquake 2003 

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle w/4000 pcs, 96x136 cm

Courtesy of of Y-gallery, New York and Lokal 30, Warsaw

Zeebrugge (Harold of Free Enterpise) 2006

Archival inkjet print on jigsaw puzzle (2000 pcs, framed), 68 x 97cm

Courtesy of the artist

Australian Wildfire 2006

Archival inkjet print on jigsaw puzzle (500 pcs, framed), 24 x 36 cm

Courtesy of the artist

Installation view "Critical Distance" at ADO gallery, Antwerp 1993

Christoph Draeger and OCI (Office for Cultural Intelligence, Amsterdam), curated by Luk Lambrecht

 

left:

 

Hurricane Andrew, 1993 

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle, 136x192 cm

Private collection, Switzerland

 

right:

 

Tenerifa 1977 (worst crash ever), 1993

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle, 96x136 cm

Courtesy of the artist

 

Reims 1918, 1993

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle, 96x136 cm

Courtesy of the artist

 

Mount St. Helen 1980, 1993

Acrylic Paint-Jet print on jigsaw puzzle, 96x136 cm

Ringier Collection, Switzerland