Edition of 300
160 x 215 mm
Volker Renner, the collector and recycler of found photographs, has tapped a new source: the website “Faces of the Riot,” which went online within weeks after the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. It gathers a large number of the faces of people who presumably participated in the assault on democracy. What makes the material explosive is that it comes from the alleged perpetrators themselves. It was they who uploaded their private shots to sites like the social media platform “Parler,” bragging about their acts before a like-minded audience. Far from serving as a gallery of profiles in courage, however, “Faces of the Riot” is effectively a contemporary version of the medieval pillory.
In the tradition of the Wild West’s “Most Wanted” posters, the site has helped the FBI elicit information on suspects. The hunters find themselves hunted. Yet this practice also raises questions of legality and concerns about surveillance by algorithms. In Potential Sightings, Volker Renner condenses the more than 5,000 “Faces of the Riot” into a portrait of horror and outrage. Focusing on the blurred pictures, he refuses to endorse the material’s forensic potential and instead underscores its inhuman and alien aspect. The phrase “potential sighting” is typically associated with beings from outer space, animals, or people who are presumed dead. The failure of facial recognition, meanwhile, suffuses the images with a painterly and abstract quality that brings to mind depictions of pain in Edvard Munch or Francis Bacon.
About the Publisher
Textem Verlag has been publishing essays, magazines, prose pieces, stories, novels and books by artists since 2004. The publishing work arises from networking whim. Unless you’re up to the deprivation of haptic events, you’ll probably be happiest creating connections in the next thousand years using stacks of paper tied together. The employees are a culture group based in Hamburg. Busy for years, called to various activities, we move in numerous realities and intermediate levels: art scene, university, patronage, social practice, Merseburg magic spells, theory, hand-written speeches in first and second-tier ideological and entertainment venues. This creates an informal preference for registering and surveying. This is a temptation and a paralogical mission for us.