The Biographies of Christiane
"Everything I Could Be"
It is amazing where life can lead you.
With just two fixed points to start with - the date of birth and the profession
of artist - the artist Christiane Fichtner from Bremen lets other people invent
her biography for her, which she then turns into pictures with the help of
a make-up artist, costume designer and a photographer. The 20 biographies
written for her so far show the different paths Christiane Fichtner’s
life could have taken and demonstrate the breathtaking diversity life has
to offer. The authors display an enormous capacity for invention: She is a
world traveler, famous fashion designer or homosexual feminist. Christiane
Fichtner walks on many fascinating fictional paths, be it as the daughter
of a diplomat in Tokyo, the child of a German immigrant family in Sao Paulo
or born into a comfortable middle class lawyer’s family in Hamburg.
All the biographies logically culminate in the study of art, or at least in
experimenting with it for a short while.
Often these life stories take detours that lead to dubious destinations. There
is not always a happy end to the invented stories. The protagonist ends as
a drunk, commits suicide or is sent to a psychiatric institution. Some authors
construct happy outcomes nonetheless. For instance, after a long period of
suffering, Christiane finally lives carefree with someone named Nick in London.
She becomes a famous and highly esteemed director, or she just realizes for
herself that life has its highs and lows, stays unpredictable till the end
and simply has to be lived. Realizing this can mean happiness, too.
Christiane Fichtner began this project in the year 2004 with her own actual
biography. Since then, she has demonstrated a good deal of trust in the authors,
whom she does not necessarily know. Her objective is to turn each serious
biography into a text and an accompanying picture and integrate it into the
series. For every biography, she works with a new team who demonstrate, for
their part, a huge creative potential for developing images to fit the biographies.
The literary quality of the written résumés ranges from tabular
lists, poetic memories and interviews to self-portrayals in the first person.
Some of them even go as far as the year 2014 and describe a fictive future.
It seems as if the artist lets go of her own will in this process, but this
is far from the case. Each person embodies Christiane Fichtner herself. In
the biographies, she proves her baffling ability to transform herself, giving
the pictures stability and credibility through her immediate charisma.