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29 Pictures within 5 minutes London, 14-October-1970, 17:00 - 17:05, in front of the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1970

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Victoria and Albert Museum (photographed)

  • Date:

    1970 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Meier, Dieter (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the support of Mastercard

  • Museum number:

    E.663:18-2015

  • Gallery location:

    Photography Centre, Room 100, The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery, case WEST WALL

  • Public access description

    Dieter Meier (Swiss, born 1945) began his career as a conceptual and performance artist in 1968, and was included in the Documenta 5 Exhibition in 1972. In the early 1980s, he embarked on a musical career with electronic project YELLO and is recognised as a major influence on electronic music today. Meier also worked as a film and music video director and returned to conceptual art practice in the 1990s. His early conceptual artworks of the 1970s anticipated ideas of conceptual photography of the late 1980s and 1990s. In 2012, his work was celebrated with a major retrospectives, Dieter Meier: Works 1968-2012 and the Yello Years, at the Deichtornhallen, Hamburg and ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe. The themes in Meier’s works often centre on absurdist and surreal ideas and the staging of failure. Many are the record of performances in public spaces, characterised by the interaction with unwittingly involved passers-by.

    The photographic series 29 Pictures within 5 minutes records people sitting on two benches in front of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Moving from one static photograph of the bench to the next, we see changes in the behaviour of the subjects, permitting the viewer to imagine a narrative or filmic scene. Meier is at first unnoticed and then acknowledged as a photographer. As the group makes eye contact with him and reacts to his presence his role changes from voyeur to actor in a mini everyday drama unfolding in front of his camera. Once his presence is noticed, the majority of the people begin to leave the bench, implying their discomfort at being recorded by the stranger. The photographs are not only a compelling conceptual work, but can also be read as a contemporary document of social relevance and human behavioural dynamics. As he has noted: “How is the decision made to leave the bench? The figures in the play of everyday life stimulate fantasy in the finest way.”

  • Physical description

    One of a set of twenty-nine unique gelatin silver prints and one text sheet, capturing a scene of people sitting on two benches in front of a wall (the V&A). Three men and a woman sit on the left bench and another man on the right bench.

  • Dimensions

    Height: 23 cm frame, Width: 30 cm frame

  • Descriptive line

    One of twenty-nine framed photographs by Dieter Meier from the series '29 Pictures within 5 minutes London, 14-Oct-1970, 17:00 - 17:05, in front of the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1970', 1970, unique gelatin silver print

  • Labels and date

    Photography Centre, 2018-20:

    Dieter Meier (born 1945)
    29 Pictures within 5 minutes London, 14-October-1970, 17:00–17:05, in front of the Victoria and Albert Museum
    1970

    As a conceptual artist, Meier explores the absurd in photography. In this sequence he photographed members of the public periodically for five minutes. Moving from one static photograph to the next evokes a narrative. The reaction of the figures shows how they gradually became aware of his presence. Most of the people leave, suggesting their discomfort at being photographed.

    Gelatin silver prints
    Purchased with the support of Mastercard
    Museum no. E.663-2015 []

  • Production Type and Product Note

    Unique

  • Collection code

    Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection