M i r j a m M ü l l e r / / p h o t o g r a p h y



Graduated in 2015 from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy // In my work I mainly research how people are creating a universe for themselves. How do we deal with the norms of the society and are the norms of our society making us happy? I researched to DIY aesthetics in the hardcore punk scene; I am fascinated by the fact that a group of young kids couldn't identify themselves within the norms of society.
For my graduation work (Common Anomalies) I am working on a series of photographs with people that are creating their own world within modern society. The fact that we are “mass mind controlled” with the standards as going to school, get a job, get a career and get married I try to show in a surrealistic form. How do we interpret these norms? And how are they working out for everyone?
In my series of photographs I try to find everyday situations and stage these situations into different environments. Common Anomalies 2015 // Photography on light boxes // An older woman lays in a desolate field while the scenery behind her reminds us of Armageddon. In front of a bar there is a parked car in which a young girl sits and plays with her Barbie. Why does an Ex-Wrestler poses heroic in his clogs in front of a room filled with dozens of aquariums? What do these photographs have in common and what do they tell us?
Mirjam Müller uses productive moments as her primary concern in her work. She wants to show us how so-called misfits create their own universe in a capitalistic world and how they deal with the norms of modern society. Do these norms make us happy? Can people live without these norms and refuse them or do they have to accept them – even if it’s only unconsciously?
The inspiration for her graduation work comes from the DIY-ethics of the hardcore-punk scene where rebellious young kids refuse the rules of society and create their own. It is this point of view that led to a series of photographs focusing on people creating their own universe in modern society. The subjects are from different cultures and adapt or refuse the rules of life like getting a career, getting married, buying a house, and so on. Do materialism and capitalism control mankind? Müller defines the norms of modern society as a “mass- mind-controlled” world.
For this series Müller’s role is that of an observer. Photography is her way to get as close as possible to her stories. This is the reason why most of the photographed experiences are based on people she knows personally. Sometimes they can also be autobiographic. By observing her own environment she sees how friends get closer to societies norms on one hand already and rejecting them on the other. In the process she abstracts them and gives them a sort of anonymity. Based on an example of a single person Müller wants to point out the general problem of outcasts and how they handle their lives in a society with so many demands. Her snapshots construct moments where the spectator can find essential characteristics to create an own statement about the destinies of the protagonists or maybe even recognize themselves.
By observing the photographs, the viewer is confronted with a very calm but essential moment of the story. The moment is produced by contrasts and a clear image composition. Not just in technique between light and shadow, also by constellation contrasts of fore- and background she reaches moments of exaggeration like in “Common Anomalies #4”. The colorful dressed old woman lies in the centre of the image while the industrial environment behind her is grey and dusty. She’s blowing bubbles and seems to be caught in her own world successfully ignoring her surroundings.
A kind of adaption to society’s norms we might notice in “Common Anomalies #1.” A businessman works very concentrated in front of his laptop. The image itself doesn’t locate him. The room is completely empty and shows no personality. Is he at home or at work? Why is he working in
the dark? It seems that nothing can distract him from his doing. Are standard rules like career more important than hobbies or friends? Mirjam Müller invites the viewer to make its own conclusion about the meaning of her photographs. Bianka Hoffmann