günther selichar

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Who´s´Afraid of Blue, Red and Green?, public intervention 2005

20 groups of 3 doublesided billboards on election-billboard-stands,
Each silkscreen/paper 120 x 160 cm, Speelhoven-Festival, Aarschot (B)

Photo: g. selichar, wien

Tim Toubac

In the project “Who’s afraid of Blue, Red and Green -  campaign ESCAPE/ESPACE’” for SPEELHOVEN ’05, Günther Selichar (1960 – Vienna/Austria) makes use of billboards used during elections by the city of Aarschot to create his own campaign for Blue, Red and Green. These three colours are not only connected to political parties, they are also the very bricks on which  the mass communication media are built. The screens that invade our everyday life (TVs and computers present in our personal and working sphere or embedded in the city scenery), the prints we see in magazines, the digital photographs we take and the advertisement campaigns alongside the road all have these three colours at the source of their creation.
In the 1960ies  Barnett Newman, to whom Selichar’s work refers,  named his famous series of works “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?”. The undertone of this question was evidently quite ironical. Who could be possibly afraid of the primary colours? Is there really anything frightening about the physical division of light? For ages these colours were the pallet for creating all the tones a painter’s heart desired. In this media age however, and through the replacement of yellow by green, Selichar’s question becomes awkwardly unsettling.
Never has the stream of information we get via mediatised images been this overwhelming, but it has also never been easier to manipulate these images. The very lifelike  blood that splashes against the camera lens in the highly digitally manipulated film ‘Once upon a Time in Mexico’ (Rodriguez-2003) is a mere dash of red pixels, the sunlight reflecting on the lens is as touchable as it is digitally added. Fashion models are stripped of every flaw, the décor of the news anchor exists only on screen. No harm has been done this far, but what if these techniques are used to legitimate a war or to persuade an ignorant audience?
In an election campaign it is every politician’s wish to present himself at his best with a brushed up or newly built image. The best way to do this, if you were to ask them, is to come out in the open, amidst the people and to be as visible as possible in the public domain. But this public domain in which they roam markets and leave a trace of campaign posters has lost its former function as a forum. Opinions are made on television and discussed on the Internet. The outcome of the democratic battle depends on the press coverage and the publication of pre-electorate polls.
With the division of these new mass media images in their primary colours the artist urges us to look through the medium and pinpoints the deformation of reality for every step of the image’s process before reaching our attention.

from: Tim Toubac, Who’s afraid of Blue, Red and Green – GT Granturismo, in: Etienne van den Bergh, Isabelle de Visscher-Lemaître, Tim Toubac: Escape/Espace - Speelhoven ´05. (Aarschot: Speelhoven 2005)