Sandra Mann

Notes on Society

Smartphones with integrated camera have become completely normal, everyday items for people in the 21st century, with serious implications: The possibility of spontaneously capturing events, however trivial, in pictures and sharing them with others seems too tempting to resist. Swamped by an incessant flow of information, we isolate individual photographic moments everywhere we look with minimum effort, and in this way give them special meaning. The response of the art world to this most recent epic deluge is ambivalent: Whereas some consider it inflationary, overwhelming and vulgar, others see in it an expression of democratic, creative and self-reflective dynamism.

The photographs in Sandra Mann’s “Daylife” series taken between 1999 and 2008 also seem to show moments from her everyday life at first glance. The camera is the young German photographer’s constant companion. The result is a large store of visual impressions as she wanders through streets, cafés, art galleries or shopping malls, in her home town of Frankfurt and abroad. Yet her eye is constantly searching, and she adopts a humorous, but also critical attitude to her motifs by picking out curious, accidental compositions. Like the wall of an old house with crumbling plasterwork, in which a hole the shape of the African continent has been accurately labeled as such by a passer-by, alluding with tongue-in-cheek humor to contemporary street art.

Urban motifs shape the mood in “Daylife”; everyday objects, fashionable garments, advertising media, shop windows and hilarious moments with friends all suggest a reflective, creative mind. Mann usually concentrates on a few shapes and colours; their proximity to the camera makes her pictures seem both personal and easily comprehensible. But what makes them so fascinating is her ability to adapt familiar objects so that they invoke key questions of our time regarding interpersonal relationships, consumption, urban space or gender constructions in the viewer’s mind. Paul Celan once defined poems as “gifts to the attentive”. Photography also has the power to reveal unexpected insights into our society through everyday details. Sandra Mann’s art attests to this.

Biographical information

1970

born in Gross-Gerau, Germany

1992-2003

studies Visual Communications at the University of Art & Design, Offenbach am Main

since 1997

begins working as a freelance photographer

2001

the interactive multimedia installation “Expedit” is exhibited in the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main

2003

publishes her first photobook, NIGHT LIFE

2008

Artist in Residence, Helsinki International Artist Program, Finland

since 2009

visiting lecturer at, among others, the University of Duisburg/Essen; Santa Monica College, Los Angeles; and the European School of Design, Frankfurt am Main

lives and works in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.