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Opening: Thursday, 11 November 2004, 6.30 pm
Exhibition: 12 November - 4 December 2004
daily from 11.00 am to 6.00 pm
Exhibition spaces of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna

An exhibition of Aperture Foundation and Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

© Stephen Shore|Trail's End Restaurant, Kanab, Utah, 1973   Trail's End Restaurant, Kanab, Utah, 1973
© Stephen Shore

"The Biographical Landscape," an exhibition containing approximately 75 photographs, offers an opportunity to revisit the seminal works of Stephen Shore, one of the most prominent and influential American photographers to emerge in the last half-century. As the only color photographer represented in the George Eastman House's seminal 1976 exhibition "New Topographics," it is well-known that Shore's pioneering large-format photographs of cities across America have had a strong influence on contemporary practitioners, Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer and other students of Bernd and Hilla Becher among them.

Lesser known are the key influences that have informed Shore's work—his early interactions with Warhol, the Pop movement in general, and the emerging conceptual art of the late sixties are important keys to the evolution of Shore's career. Focusing on Uncommon Places—Shore's essential series on the American vernacular landscape produced between 1973 and 1982—"The Biographical Landscape" provides an opportunity to reexamine this work in the context of his broader oeuvre, unearthing the conceptual underpinnings that inform his work throughout.

© Stephen Shore|Proton Avenue, Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, 1974   Proton Avenue, Gull Lake, Saskatchewan, 1974
© Stephen Shore

Originally published by Aperture Foundation in 1982 and long out of print, Shore's now legendary book will be released in an expanded edition in the spring of 2004 by Aperture and titled Uncommon Places: The Complete Works—a definitive collection of the early work, much of which has never before been published or exhibited. The exhibition will use the occasion of this publication to examine the interrelationships in the work from 1968-1993 that comprises Shore's "Biographical Landscape."

The exhibition is divided into three groups. Pictures from 1973 will be combined with a presentation of a fragment of "American Surfaces" (1972), restaged as it was first exhibited at the Light Gallery in 1972. In 1973 Shore switched from the 35mm camera he used for "American Surfaces" to a plate camera. This part of the exhibition will focus on the Pop Art dimension of Shore's work and will include part of Shore's postcard collection, his own edition of postcards of Amarillo, Texas, and a collection of found photographs featured in "All the meat you can eat"—an exhibition curated by Shore in 1972. Diaries Shore kept during his travels from the period will be shown in a vitrine.

© Stephen Shore|Michael and Sandy Marsh, Amarillo, Texas, 1974   Michael and Sandy Marsh, Amarillo, Texas, 1974
© Stephen Shore

The period from 1974 through 1976 will be represented with a selection of 20 photographs, all from "Uncommon Places." Between 1974 and 1976 Shore developed a formal approach to reality, focusing on linear perspective. In this phase of Shore's work, he begins to bring the biographical elements to the fore not only through the titles of the work which meticulously chart his position in time and space throughout the project, but also through composition: the focal point of these images defines very precisely Stephen Shore's position in the landscape he presents. The photographs will be hung to demonstrate the self-positioning of the photographer by defining the focal point and the position of the viewer, when they step into the same perspectival point.

© Stephen Shore|Merced River, Yosomite National Park, California,1979   Merced River, Yosomite National Park, California,1979
© Stephen Shore

In his work after 1976, Shore approaches the landscape with a different set of motives. The final grouping of 20 photographs will introduce this third period of "Uncommon Places," marked by a denial of any focal point or single point of perspective. By turning the surface of the photograph into a wall-like façade, Shore indicates the reality beyond the photographic view.

In 1980 Shore moved to Montana and began focusing on a body of pure landscapes that are distinctly different in subject than that of "Uncommon Places." Conceptually, however, they radically further the denial of perspective Shore so deftly articulates in the last phase of "Uncommon Places."

Interpreting Shore's work in relation to time-based art, like that of Ed Ruscha or On Kawara, helps to further an understanding of his work as an ongoing process of constructing an identity. By relating the process of building up different identities to the practice of photography, this exhibition, The Biographical Landscape: The Photography of Stephen Shore 1968-1993, tries to shed new light on Shore's work and to establish a more precise understanding of photography as a social institution.