Josiane Keller
ホテル Hotel  Surrogates
December 15, 2016 – January 10, 2017 

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Artist statement

Josiane Keller: ホテル Hotel  Surrogates

"A long-residency hotel in a large city, possibly in the USA ("on 2nd Street and Cooks Lane").

Various colourful people are living here together, trying to make it to the next day. Some of them will later on become famous. (Or was all that yesterday?) ..."

Keller's work investigates the human sense of seeing and based on that communicating in images.

After studying pottery, painting and dance and working as a stage photographer she developed since 2012 a particular style of work based on self-made small scale puppets from ceramic, which she then photographs and creates experimental films with.

Through these images she investigates the function of a photograph as a surrogate for (re-)living the real scene and the function of a puppet as surrogate of a human being, but most of all the effect of "evidence" that a camera adds to a picture and the interchangeability of a puppet and a human being in a photograph.

The long term project "ホテル Hotel" is inspired by Nan Goldin's work "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency", Andy Warhol's "Factory" and the Hotel Chelsea and the fetishism around certain outsider groups of society that achieve fame mainly through documentation in photographs with an audience that ironically so seems to project, but is actually far removed from the people depicted in the images by status and life-style.

Josiane Keller


Born from German-Austrian parents, growing up in rural Bavaria, after the early death of her father she was raised and deeply influenced by her grandfather, a music instrument builder, painter and photographer.

After obtaining a degree in functional pottery in Germany and studying briefly dance in Switzerland she spent several years abroad in Asia doing live-in-apprenticeships in Thailand (Pottery Supanichvoraparch, Ratchaburi) and especially Kyoto, Japan, (Ceramic Master Akira Okamoto, Sumiyama Bessyo, Uji) where she also later worked as studio assistant in an Outsider Art Studio (Shigaraki Seinenryo, Shiga).

Japan has been until now the strongest influence in her life, and she returns there regularly for long stays; in particular here she was introduced to the approach of including decay and destruction in one’s work in order to express life as a complete and natural circle, which is a typical element of the ceramic used within the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

After returning from Japan she obtained a MA in contemporary studio arts from Leeds Becket University, England, and at the same time worked for two years as a stage photographer for the contemporary thearte director Tony Chen (Taiwan), and finally a postgraduate diploma in painting from the Edinburgh College of Arts, Scotland. Since 2002 she shares most of her time between USA, currently based in Los Angeles, and Japan.

Since 2012 she developed a particular body of work of lens-based images taken from self-made small scale puppets from ceramic. In this style of working she explores a combination of her practical and conceptual interests, in particular the human visual experience and connected to that visual memory, the psychological and anthropological function of puppets and other surrogates, and Surrealism.

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