contemporary art / history of art

Thyra Schmidt: Über Diebe und die Liebe. On Thieves and Love.

Already in 2013, Thyra Schmidt created a series of 12 text-posters with the title “Staccato” for the Kunstverein Paderborn. They were presented in the public space on four advertising columns. Subsequently, the artist reedited the same script on 22 typographic sheets. Supplemented by the video “Ouro Preto” (11:28 min), these posters formed the solo exhibition “On Thieves and Love” at the Neuer Kunstverein Wuppertal in 2014. Now Thyra made an artist book of the original German text with an English translation by Enrico Nake, published by the edition cantz.

In “On Thieves and Love” Thyra recounts a story about two persons – her and him – who meet or have contact in several circumstances. During some years, their encounters seem to be more or less occasionally. Nevertheless, an intimate relation develops. The narration itself is fragmented. Instead of a continuous description, the author highlights single moments, close-ups and intimate feelings. Even though based on personal observations and experiences, “On Thieves and Love” is not autobiographically. It is an artistic investigation about love.

Since the reader did not know, what happened before and after, the randomness and also the conflict between chaos and order might remind the literary genre of the novella. However, the by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe described characteristic that a novella tells about one outrageous incident is missing. In fact, Thyra depicts several moments, which seem to be more or less insignificant, except for “her and him”. As said before, the narration is fragmented. It leaves open spaces to imagine what might happen in between the single units. These gaps are underlined by unexpected line-breaks and empty pages. By the so created blank spaces, one is forced to make pauses while reading. This gives the reader the possibility to fill them with his/her own phantasy or to think of experiences and to follow own thoughts.

Even though, she studied painting and photography, Thyra started early in her career to include texts in her works. In the beginning, she worked with handwritings and quotes by different authors. Soon, she started to compose her own texts, often in combination with photos. Thereby, the written words are not an explanation or comment to the pictures, but a complement, which could also be seen as an image. As in “On Thieves and Love”, the arrangement of the words is more than a down written sentence. The layout sets the rhythm of reading and at the same time creates an abstract image of characters.

Appropriately, one could pick up the book repeatedly; browse it, read it from beginning to the end or only some sentences. Each time other perceptions will arise, as well as memories and images. The volume is narration, poetry collection and image generator at the same time.


Thyra Schmidt: Über Diebe und die Liebe. On Thieves and Love
ISBN 978-3-947563-67-8
84 pages
15,5 cm x 20,5 cm
edition cantz
15,00 €

Thyra Schmidt

Born in Pinneberg, Germany (1974) Thyra studied fine arts (painting and photography) at the University of Applied Sciences and Art in Hannover under Peter Tuma. After a guest residence at the Hiroshima City University (Japan) and studies at the University of Art (HBK) in Braunschweig under Dörte Eißfeldt, she went to the Kunstakademie (Academy of Fine Arts) Düsseldorf, Germany in the class of Thomas Ruff until 2005.

Together with other students of Thomas Ruff, she founded the artist group FEHLSTELLE in 2003, which realises art-projects in public space. Thyra’s individual works are sometimes also situated in public space like “I can’t just be nowhere” in cooperation with the Goethe-Institute in Oslo, Norway and “Staccato” for the Kunstverein Paderborn, Germany. At the same time, her works are shown in numerous individual and group exhibitions in Germany and abroad such as France, Italy, Brazil and South Korea.

Besides photography, Thyra started already in 2007 to experiment with scripture. For her participation at the “Congress of Futurologists” in Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany, she asked people to write words or small sentences on paper provided by her. Since this time, she reflects on images that are formed by writings. For “I can’t just be nowhere” in Oslo she combined text and photo. The texts were quotes by different authors, partly modified by her.

Progressively, Thyra evolved from her initially mostly photo-based works to text dominated. In her solo exhibition in 2015 “Blaue T-Shirts, Jeans und Turnschuhe” (Blue T-Shirts, Jeans and Trainers) at Martin Leyer-Pritzkow, Düsseldorf, there were seven texts and only two photos. As supplement to the exhibition, the artist published in 2017 a small book including new works of the series from 2016. Therein are five photos and thirteen texts, all by herself.

The arrangement of the words indicates how the sentence should be read, with breaks for dwell time. Moreover, these texts can be received as abstract pictures, especially for non-German speakers and particularly for people who cannot read Latin letters.

During her artist residence in Hongcheon in 2017, South Korea, Thyra created a work, once again a text. Since it was exposed at the façade of the Hongcheon Art Museum, it was translated into Korean. For the average western onlooker, who cannot read the letters the abstraction is evident. 두 친구가 그 방을 떠난다. 그리고 다른 길로 걸어간다 (Two friends leave the room and walk in different directions) was our artwork of the month of October 2017.

In 2019, Thyra edited her artist book “Über Diebe und die Liebe. On Thieves and Love.” with an English translation by Enrico Nake, published by the edition cantz. For this, she transformed the typographic sheets from her exhibition “Über Diebe und die Liebe” at Neuer Kunstverein Wuppertal into a hardcover. By the insertion of blank pages, she extended the gaps created by the layout of the text.

Until 15 May 2020, Thyra has the solo exhibition “Rendezvous” at Martin Leyer-Pritzkow in Düsseldorf. Here she presents several flower still-lifes and one typographic sheet. Since the exhibition is only visible by appointment due to the coronavirus-crisis, an online booklet is released. Also the current group exhibition “Sehnsucht nach dem Jetzt” at Schloss Biesdorf, which comprises an audio-collage by the artist is accessible online.

Thyra lives and works in Düsseldorf.