Christoph Draeger 

 

 

Disaster and violence are Mr. Draeger's subjects. In the 1990's he visited the sites of plane crashes, explosions and tornados and constructed detailed models of the scenes, which he photographed or painted.

 

His obsession with destruction — its unpredictable occurrence, the voyeuristic fascination it inspires — culminated in a 1999 video titled "Crash," currently on view at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art in Florida. It is made up entirely of images of midair collisions lifted from from news films, amateur videos and Hollywood movies, spliced together into a prolonged experience of shattering impact.

 

The effect isn't all that different from the endless television replays of planes striking the twin towers. And for anyone who watched the buildings collapse over and over again on television, aspects of Mr. Draeger's Roebling Hall show may have uncomfortable resonance.

 

{excerpt from "Works Echo Differently When Life Overtakes Art," review by Holland Cotter, The New York Times, Critic's  Notebook, September 25, 2001}

 

 

 

The work of Swiss artist Christoph Draeger generally falls into two categories. On one hand is his interest in Hollywood films, and on the other his obsession with disasters and catastrophes. Draeger’s 1999 work "Apocalypso Place" falls into the latter category. Draeger is interested in how people deal with catastrophes, disasters of natural or man-made origin, and in the meaninglessness of this distinction when the disaster actually occurs. For Draeger, a disaster is primarily a situation in which people and their actions can change radically. Draeger’s "Apocalypso Place"  consists of a hurricane-ravaged living room, in which a television is playing American broadcaster SNBC’s "24-Hour Disaster and Survival Channel." Three "survivors" of the disaster talk exclusively in advertising slogans and media one-liners, trying to keep afloat with old patterns, illusions, and false truths.

 

{exhibition notes from the IMPAKT Panorama Festival at the Centrall Museum, NicolaasKirkhoff 10 Utrecht (2001}

 

 

 

Christoph Draeger, TWA 800, #4 (2001); I.C.E. 886: the great German train disaster (1999); Tornado, Kissimee, Florida (1999); Tornado, Spencer, South Dakota (1999); Hurricane Andrew (1993); Puzzled (1998); Apocalypse #1 (1996); Apocalypse #2 (1996)

In these works by Draeger, a series of large-scale photographs of disaster zones and reconstructions of aircraft that have crashed are die cut into jigsaw puzzles. The images juxtapose the mundane nature of puzzles, which usually depict idyllic landscapes, with motifs of disaster and terrorism. Draeger's eerily lighthearted works avoid a sense of tragedy despite the calamities they depict.

 

{exhibition notes from Game Show, at Mass MOCA (2001-2002)}