contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the Month / May 2022

Körper (Body/Bodies)
Thyra Schmidt

two pieces:
silkscreen on handmade paper
framed (maple), each 62 x 82,5 cm



Körper I

This music!
I remember your smell.

And suddenly I feel your excitement,
which is now mine.


Körper II

I look at you.
As if you were touching me.
The imagination of your body still reaches me.

The picture flickers.


“Körper” (Body/Bodies) by Thyra Schmidt is an artwork in two pieces: framed silkscreen prints on handmade paper. Each work contains a German text by the artist. However, the person of the speaker remains unknown for the beholder. The letters are printed in a creamlike colour, thus there is only a minimal contrast to the paper. Therefore, they seem to be imbedded in the soft paper, which is rather a muted white than a brilliant white. This presentation reflects the intimate content of the texts. Moreover, the typeset (line breaks, blank lines and indent) slows the reading tempo down, since it predefines shorter and longer breaks.

“Körper I” starts with the exclamation “This music!” and then refers to the memory of another person’s smell, probably recalled by the music. This souvenir induces to perceive the other one’s excitement and transfer it to the speaker. Evidently, the other person is absent. Nonetheless, the by the music evoked remembrance is so strong that the feelings have a physical impact.

The first sentence of “Körper II” seems to reverse the absence for a moment, since the speaker seems to watch the other one. However, the next line about a hypothetic physical contact reveals the lack of real presence. Nevertheless, the idea of it still remains, but the image fades away. Hence, the two texts describe a development of alienation, caused by an enduring distance.

Since the intimate imagination of the other’s body could express his/her missing company and with that the privation of haptic sensation, the texts could speak about a temporal or permanent loss, caused by a journey, illness, separation or even death. This fits to Thyra’s general interest in human relations. In her works, she reflects on proximity and distance. Her mainly textual based oeuvre describes internal and external perceptions. These experiences changed during the pandemic. Therefore, “Körper” points to the lack of physical contact due to lockdowns and limited personal contacts. At the same time, it refers to the changed communication, which shifted to digital based relations.

In this sense, “Körper I” might recount the feelings during a meeting via internet, where two persons listened to music together. Here the music stands for a shared sensory experience, despite the physical distance. Such a virtual encounter could even evoke physical reactions. Whereas in “Körper II” the emotional distance increases, regardless the visual contact. This alienation is provoked by the privation of corporal contact and the unsatisfactory medium of communication. “The picture flickers.”


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 (1996-2000). After a guest residence at the Hiroshima City University, Japan (1999-2000), she frequented the University of Art (HBK) in Braunschweig under Dörte Eißfeldt (2000-2001). From 2001 to 2005, she was student at the Academy of Fine Arts Düsseldorf, in the class of Thomas Ruff.

Together with other students of Thomas Ruff, she founded the artist group FEHLSTELLE in 2003, which realised art-projects in public space until 2012 in Germany and abroad. Thyra’s individual works are sometimes 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.

Besides photography, Thyra already started 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.

In her solo exhibition “Rendezvous” at Martin Leyer-Pritzkow in Düsseldorf (2020), Thyra presented several flower still-lifes and one typographic sheet. Whereas her solo show “innen inside intérieur”, at the Künstlerloge Ratingen (2021) consisted of a text in three parts, which was originally composed in German and translated into English and French and printed on separated sheets.

Thyra’s works were shown in numerous individual and group exhibitions in Germany and other countries such as the Netherlands, Brazil, South Korea, Japan, China and the United States. She recently participated in group shows as “Pictured as a Poem” at KAI 10|Arthena Foundation, “the kitchen happening” by artist Judith Samen and “Sehnsucht nach dem Jetzt” (Longing for the Now), Part III at Weltkunstzimmer, all in Düsseldorf (2021). Besides, she taught artistic photography at the University of Cologne from 2015 until 2017 and initialised with Hannes Norberg the platform for artistic photography “Neue Fotografie” in Düsseldorf in 2017. Moreover, she was awarded with several grants and artist in residencies in Germany and abroad. Additionally, she curated exhibitions and published artist books by herself and in collaboration with other creatives.

Thyra lives and works in Düsseldorf.