Munich-based artist Verena Frensch (born 1970), whose pho­to­gra­phy draws hea­vily from her auto­bio­gra­phy , often shows land­scapes and sce­nery that go beyond any handed-down expe­ri­en­tial know­ledge. She depicts nightmarishly-unreal, trans­fi­gu­red loca­ti­ons in a post­a­po­ca­lyp­tic time that have lost their para­di­sia­cal inno­cence through civilization’s destruc­tive inter­fe­rence. If humans appear at all, they appear dis­ori­en­ted. They are wit­hout pur­pose or affi­lia­tion and are con­stantly sear­ching in vain for their point of refe­rence or their own sense of self. These images open up in an uncom­for­ta­ble visual effect, as fata­listic visi­ons of the future come into a hyper-realistic pre­sence in front of the viewer’s eyes. Simul­ta­neously, these images also sub­li­mi­nally evoke ano­ther posi­tive world view — namely the hea­ling of an earthly para­dise.
This is also the theme from Frensch’s three-part series exe­cu­ted in 2006 and entit­led “I Am Here, Await­ing.” In the first image, high-rise buil­dings loom before a dra­ma­tic cloud-laced back­drop. There is no evi­dence of resi­dents, which soli­di­fies the idea that human life in this set­ting has become gene­rally impos­si­ble. In the second pic­ture, the viewer sees a hilly Medi­ter­ra­nean land­scape sur­roun­ded by a back­lit, sulfur-yellow haze. Pus­hing its­elf into the right side of the frame is a monu­men­tal buil­ding com­plex sit­ting atop stilts that is remi­nis­cent of an oil rig or a space sta­tion. Again, the lack of any signs of life cer­tainly evoke a cau­sal rela­ti­onship bet­ween the con­quest of the land­scape with large man-made machi­nes and the apo­ca­lyp­tic mood. The third image finally dis­cus­ses the fully-executed demise of cul­tu­ral heri­tage. All the land is floo­ded; huge cra­nes pro­tru­ding from the sea have all but hau­led off the Par­thenon, whose spo­lia pro­trude out of the water. With the destruc­tive task nearly com­ple­ted, it beco­mes obvious that the undertaking’s absurd pres­ump­tion is to dis­pose of the anci­ent monu­ment as a sym­bol of our spi­ri­tual and cul­tu­ral basis. Des­pite the fata­lism, there remains a spark of hope for relief from the appa­rent ine­vi­ta­bi­lity of the vicious cir­cle.
A cri­ti­que of civi­liza­tion also influ­en­ces ano­ther of Frensch’s three-part series entit­led “Recei­ver” (2007). In these images, it is appa­rent that antenna masts have taken over the rooftop land­scape of the Medi­ter­ra­nean– style city blocks. Behind sand dunes, the sil­hou­ette of a con­struc­tion site beco­mes dis­tin­gu­is­hable. Threa­te­n­in­gly mas­sive sand dunes frame blocks of high rise buil­dings and a tele­vi­sion tower.
With the help of pic­tures from Leba­non, Frensch has gran­dio­sely sta­ged an apo­ca­lyp­tic vision of a civi­liza­tion gone out of balance. This vision con­tains — in its deepest core — the belief in the sur­vi­val of the natu­ral basis of civi­liza­tion and the belief in a civi­liza­tion that des­troys the encoun­tered para­dise up to a point 7 of immi­nent self­de­struc­tion. Howe­ver, the insight con­veyed through the artist’s images does not les­sen the fears rela­ted to a frigh­te­n­ing future sce­na­rio. The artist’s mes­sage is frac­tu­red by the mas­ter­ful sta­ging of this pic­ture along a pre­de­ter­mined course.

Cur­ri­cu­lum Vitae
1970 born in Munich
1992–1995 Trai­ning as a fashion gra­phic desi­gner, Deut­sche Meis­ter­schule für Mode, Munich
1997–2002 Stu­dies of visual com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Hoch­schule für Gestal­tung, Karls­ruhe, with Prof. Gun­ter Ram­bow and Prof. Vol­ker Albus; diploma
1999–2001 Mas­ter of Arts (CAD), Royal Col­lege of Art, London
2004–2012 Stu­dies at the Aca­demy of Fine Arts, Munich, with Prof. Karin Knef­fel, Prof. Niko­laus Lang and Prof. Die­ter Rehm (mas­ter stu­dent); diploma
2005 Foun­da­tion of the artist group „Chamäleon“
2007– Assis­tant to Dr. Ste­fa­nie Rosen­thal (Schlin­gen­sief exhi­bi­tion), Haus der Kunst, München
Verena Frensch lives and works in Munich
Pri­zes & Awards
2001 BSI Design Award 2001
2000 Brian Robb Award 2000
2010–2012 Scho­lar­ship of the Baye­ri­sches Minis­te­rium für Wis­sen­schaft, For­schung und Kunst
2000 BFWG Cha­ri­ta­ble Foun­da­tion London
1999–2000 The Royal Col­lege of Art Grant
Exhi­bi­ti­ons – Selec­tions (S = Solo show, G = Group exhibition)
2017 „Impul­ses“ (S), Ingo Seu­fert – Gal­lery for Con­tem­porary Pho­to­gra­phy at law firm Widen­mayer, Munich
2017 „Trans­mis­sion“ (S), Ingo Seu­fert – Gal­lery for Con­tem­porary Pho­to­gra­phy, Munich
2013 „xyz“ (G), Gale­rie der Künst­ler, Munich
2012 „him­mel­grau“ (G), Gale­rie Bezirk Ober­bay­ern, Munich
2011 Annual exhi­bi­tion „[R]aussicht Sehn­sucht“ (G) 2011 of the Aca­demy of Fine Arts, Munich
„7 Sterne für Bad Rei­chen­hall“ (G), Bad Reichenhall
2010 „Art Goes Green“ (G), Pra­ter island, Munich
„Stran­ger than Para­dise“ (G), Merkel-Collection / Gates of Eden, Mannheim
„Pla­zas Del Deseo“ (G), Kunst­ver­ein Dachau
„Foto­box – 6 Posi­tio­nen zeit­ge­nös­si­scher Foto­gra­fie“ (G), whi­te­BOX, Munich
2009 „The Woman Next Door“ (G), exhi­bi­tion pro­ject with Angela Dwyer and stu­dents of the Aca­demy of Fine Arts, Munich
„Tar­get 3“ (G), Tar­get Part­ners, Munich
Ost­rale (G), Dresden
Annual exhi­bi­tion „If Para­dise Is Half As Nice“ (G) 2009 of the Aca­demy of Fine Arts, Munich
„Wun­der­kam­mer — Die Rat­ten stür­men das sin­kende Schiff“ (G), Die Fär­be­rei, Munich
„Der katho­li­sche Fak­tor in der zeit­ge­nös­si­schen Kunst aus Polen und Deutsch­land“ (G), „Lee­rer Beu­tel“ Gal­lery and History Museum, Regensburg
2008 „Pro­duct Pla­ce­ment“ (G), Kre­mer Mühle, Munich
„Posi­tion Foto­gra­fie“ (G), Gale­rie der Künstler/BBK, Munich
„Fan­tasy and Fai­ry­ta­les – 200 Jahre Kunst­aka­de­mie“ (G), Muff­at­werk, Munich
„Pla­net Aqua“ (G), Sap­poro, Japan
Annual exhi­bi­tion (G) 2008 Aca­demy of Fine Arts, Munich
2007 „Kunst­Kraft­Werk“ (G), Open Art 19, Munich
„Shif­ting Bor­ders“ (G), Young Art at the BMW World, Munich (purchase)
LfA calen­dar 2007 „Junge Kunst in Bayern“
„Tar­get 2“ (G), Tar­get Part­ners, Munich
Darm­städ­ter Tage der Foto­gra­fie 2007 (G), Darmstadt
Annual exhi­bi­tion (G) 2007 of the Aca­demy of Fine Arts, Munich
2006 „Tar­get 1“ (G), Tar­get Part­ners, Munich
„Frau Schäf­fer“ (S), Kur­fürs­ten­straße 5 and Aca­demy of Fine Arts, Munich
„Face-à-Face – Ansich­ten des Liba­non“ (film, per­for­mance, lec­ture; S), Gas­teig, Munich
„Glo­bal­hero“ (G), Pho­to­kina Cologne
2005 „Cha­mä­leon 1“ (G), Stet­ten­ka­serne, Munich
2001 “The RCA Sum­mer Show 2001” (G), London
“Vision” (G), Enve­l­ope Gal­lery, London
2000 „Fleisch” (G), Pas­sa­gen der Möbel­messe, Cologne
1998 „Abschied“ (G), IWKA, Karlsruhe
Pos­ters for Amnesty Inter­na­tio­nal for the 50th Anni­versary of the Decla­ra­tion of Human Rights (G), Zen­trum für Kunst und Medi­en­tech­no­lo­gie, Karlsruhe
7th Inter­na­tio­nal Tri­en­nial of Poli­ti­cal Pos­ter de Mons (G), Musée des Beaux-Arts, Mons, Belgium
„Demo­kra­tie“, pos­ter con­test for the Day of Demo­cracy, Lan­des­zen­trale für Poli­ti­sche Bil­dung, Stuttgart
2012 Cata­lo­gue „him­mel­grau“, Munich 2012, pp. 20–23
2010 „art­goes­green. Junge Künst­ler kle­ckern, knip­sen und kon­stru­ie­ren für eine Welt von mor­gen“, in: ART­inves­tor 4 (2010), pp. 40–41
2009 Cata­lo­gue „Thea­ter of Life“ for the show in the gar­den house at the Aca­demy of Fine Arts, Munich, Munich 2009, pp. 6–9
Cata­lo­gue „Der katho­li­sche Fak­tor in der zeit­ge­nös­si­schen Kunst aus Polen und Deutsch­land“ for the show in the „Lee­rer Beu­tel“ Gal­lery and in the History Museum Regens­burg, Colo­gne 2008, pp. 112–113
Cata­lo­gue „Wun­der­kam­mer – Die Rat­ten stür­men das sin­kende Schiff“, o. O., o. J. (Munich 2009) p. 111
2007 Cata­lo­gue „Shif­ting Bor­ders. Junge Kunst in der BMW Welt“, Munich 2007, pp. 14–15
Calen­dar „junge kunst in bay­ern“ of the LfA För­der­bank Bay­ern, Munich 2007
Cata­lo­gue „Darm­städ­ter Tage der Foto­gra­fie: Über­blick – Kon­struk­tio­nen der Wahr­heit“, Darm­stadt 2007, pp. 184–185, 215–216
Cata­lo­gue „Schlin­gen­sief — 18 Bil­der pro Sekunde“, Haus der Kunst, Munich 2007
2001 Cata­lo­gue “Vision”, Enve­l­ope Gal­lery Lon­don, 2001
1998 “Abschied”, an exhi­bi­tion pro­ject of the­Hoch­schule für Gestal­tung Karls­ruhe, Staat­li­che Hoch­schule für Gestal­tung Karls­ruhe 1998, pp. 10–13
1997 Gun­ter Ram­bow: „Stu­den­ten“, Ostfildern-Ruit 1997, pp. 296, 317, 331, 420, 477 ff., 547
„5 Jahre Staat­li­che Hoch­schule für Gestal­tung Karls­ruhe“, Karls­ruhe 1997


Verena Frensch

Verena Frensch

My pic­tures are reflec­tions of my inner expe­ri­ence. I pho­to­graph them. I com­pose and ‘paint’ them until they are the images floa­ting in front of my inner eye. Most are ideal land­scapes, in which – from time to time – see­min­gly lost people go astray. Stormy skies that threa­ten disas­ter often span the land­scapes. In others, there are ‘sto­len’ moments, unusual per­spec­tives, and dream sequen­ces that run through an inhos­pi­ta­ble world where they are expo­sed to melan­ch­oly, fee­lings of stran­gen­ess, and defen­se­l­ess.
My images make the viewer une­asy, because a sho­cking truth hides behind a flaw­less sur­face. They are sym­bols of a post-apocalyptic world view, which broa­ches the issue of our tire­less search for a lost para­dise, as well as the onen­ess with our­sel­ves and the world around us.
They ask us who we really are, what we seek, and what we will actually do when we find it. Will our rest­less­ness then come to an end or is it only repla­ced by yet ano­ther search? They ask us what we make out of the sup­po­sedly dis­co­vered para­dise and whe­ther we actually can accept it wit­hout wan­ting to touch it, change it, and ulti­mately des­troy it.“
(Verena Frensch)