NO CLEAN SLATE
Text portraits by Ralph Ueltzhoeffer
In Ralph Ueltzhoeffer’s text portraits, word and image merge in an inseparable unity. The artist, born in 1966, draws his text and pictures from the World Wide Web. The images are the end product of a grand art project over the course of 923 days dedicated to global networking and new media.
The faces, inscribed in text by the artist with their own biographies, are faces that the media has made popular, lives it has made accessible to the rest of the world – whether they like it or not. Stars of the pop and fashion world like Madonna, Kate Moss, and Serge Gainsbourg, but also illustrious figures such as the Dalai Lama and Joseph Beuys, now have written on their faces what Wikipedia, today humanity’s largest collective information source, has compiled about these selected mortals. Line for line, the letters conform to the contours of the faces, which seem astonishingly spatial and sensibly augmented by the text. These people are no “clean slates”; they have exceptional talents, wild careers, and are major successes. And for many millions of people they are exciting, a role model, hope.