Privacy Policy

Madonna (News), 1999

Julian Rosefeldt / Piero Steinle, Madonna (News), 1999 
Diptych, Lambda print, each 120 x 180 cm

>> Close

Julian Rosefeldt / Piero Steinle
Madonna (News)
Diptych, Lambda print, each 120 x 180 cm
Edition 4 + 2 ap

The diptych Madonna (News) is part of the video installation News (1998) by Julian Rosefeldt and  his former collaborator Piero Steinle. The content is evident from the title: a female newsreader is shown in two different outfits at the moment she announces someone’s death. With her eyes wide open and a compassionate expression, she is reminiscent of the ‘Madonna Dolorosa’ in Christian iconography – Maria suffering from pain, knowing that her only son has to die. Madonna (News) depicts a key moment, revealing the standardised gestural codes and absurd monotone language of news transmission even in such individual situations as the announcement of someone’s death.

For News (1998) the artists searched through the archives of German news programmes of private and public TV from West and East Germany. Leaving behind their focus on architecture in the broadest sense, Julian Rosefeldt and his former collaborator Piero Steinle dedicated themselves to structures within different systems: namely, the media. They started to excerpt texts, sounds and gestures of newsreaders in order to reveal repetitive patterns within language and image. Two screens and twelve soundtracks constitute a sort of meta media language, a grammar of the camera. It becomes evident that even the news, which is expected to present an objective truth, shows a subjectively constructed version of reality. Certain topics are intentionally combined with specific images: harmless news such as the birth of zoo animals is included so viewers can digest war reports, insignificant images depict the outside of buildings housing politically important meetings, and so on.

When one looks at today’s online platforms and magazines, this kind of news transmission appears almost outdated. News can hence be read as a ‘multimedia requiem, a swan song on a vanishing form of news transmission’ (D. Krystof).

Summarised from Armin Zweite and Doris Krystof, in: News: Eine Videoinstallation von Julian Rosefeldt und Piero Steinle (1998)

The work was initiated by Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf.

Exhibitions / Catalogues

Julian Rosefeldt und Piero Steinle, Galerie im Park – Museum Franz Gertsch, Burgdorf, January–March 2003 (curated by Reinhard Spieler)
Deep Distance: Die Entfernung der Fotografie, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, May–August 2000 (curated by Wilhelm Schürmann; catalogue)
Wohin kein Auge reicht: Von der Entdeckung des Unsichtbaren, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, May–September 1999 (curated by Wilhelm
    Schürmann, Zdenek Felix; catalogue)

Photo Works / Madonna (News), 1999