UK, December 2005
For German-born photographer Birgit Wudtke, a trip to Iceland in 2002 cemented her vocational direction as a photographer. After graduating in design from Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Wudtke began as a contributing photographer with magazines including Spex, Neid and Greenpeace. Her subsequent three months at an artist-in-residence programme in Iceland, spent working on drawings and landscape photographs, was a turning point.
"The reason for choosing the camera as my main medium," Wudtke explains, "is my interest in psycho-social issues. The camera reflects on the view of my social surrounding, my friends and my partners, in the same way that their postures and facial expressions mirror mine in the actual situation."
Wudtke's work is mediative and intellectual. She is highly conscious of the historical, social and cultural properties of her medium and this informs her approach to her subject matter and her sensitive visual treatment of it. Asked whom she admires, Wudtke reserves praise for contemporary photographers and artists who are more than just image-makers. "I admire people who are able to balance great work with social awareness... I am interested in the gender issue of fashion concepts. From my point of view, the clothes shown in the magazines are less important than the images - nobody can wear those clothes anyway. It is more about gender control, male fantasies and the social control of what is allowed and what is not. It is merely a fiction game, visual fun with a shocking reality. I can see a few examples of artists in this commercial surrounding who seem to be aware about this disharmony and try to face it during their creative process. Maybe Nick Knight, maybe Vivienne Westwood, maybe Björk are offering exceptional concepts. It seems to me there is still a lot to do. I like photographers who face the truth."
Collaboration is an important aspect of Wudtke's work. She is part of a collective of artists called BeetoBee and has an ongoing project with fellow Bee, photo and video artist Beatrix Pang, which they will resume in Norway.
"With my way of doing art." says Wudtke, "I always enjoy being part of a group, no matter if people are working with photo, drawings, videos, texts, magazine productions or if they are coming together for an exhibition concept. The most important creative collaborations for me would be the photo and magazine projects with my sister Ina Wudtke and the photo expeditions and exhibitions that I did together with a group of eighteen photographers from Hamburg."
Wudtke has been working on her project Untouched, Touched, Retouched ("portraits of my female friends in different natural surroundings or intimate rooms") for three years and hopes to publish the result as a book in 2006.
Norway and Iceland, 2002-04
Profile by Angharad Lewis