Laura Schawelka

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Artist Statement

My work examines modes of representation and display, the production of value in its systems and the politics of seduction. I’m interested to see what happens to advertising if its contents are not available, vanish, contradict or negate each other. Goods like Muscle Milk or Crystal Pepsi become stand-ins for objectified bodies and their functions since the lens turns humans and objects equally into fictions. Images become more physically real than what they depict.

I don’t believe in the assumed neutrality of the gallery, the frame or the TV. Consumer-grade devices have only recently entered the gallery space. By building structures like mantelpieces and shelves around my work I’m acknowledging their place and connotation in present time, alluding to their future obsoleteness. Part of what makes newness seducing is the fragility of the status “new”. Newness isn’t a property but a shifting spectator-dependent relation. The difference between irresistible and dispensable remains subconscious. What is lacking is what creates desire. If an image deliberately fails to conjure up the feel of seduction, can it still seduce?

I make videos about photography and vice versa. The distinction between the two that was so easy to make in the past, has become more complex recently. Film and photo cameras are unified in the same device: director, actor and audience are the same person. This complication is crucial for my practice. Critique of representation from the outside isn’t possible anymore. I’m keeping my subject’s allure arms-length away, but my arm is in it nonetheless.


Born in Munich, Germany
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA


Master of Fine Arts, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia

Meisterschüler, Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Städelschule, Frankfurt.

Solo Exhibitions

Muscle Crystal Glamourcon, The Tip, Frankfurt
Muscle Milk, Mint Gallery, CalArts, Valencia

COFFEE TABLE BOOK, A402, CalArts, Valencia

SCHLOSS FRANKFURT SCHAU, Presse- und Informationsamt der Stadt Frankfurt

Selected Group Exhibitions 

9800, 9800 S Sepulveda Blvd, curated by Shyan Rahimi, Los Angeles
Fragment, UCLA New Wight Gallery, Los Angeles (catalog)
How’s it Going, organized by P.E.S., New York
Art, MFA, ’15. The 2015 CalArts MFA Show, Cooper Design Space, Los Angeles (catalog)
Suite 44.06, wwww, Frankfurt Marriott Hotel, Frankfurt
Placebo Home, Part I, Cologne
Everything Speaks Twice, Vacancy, Los Angeles


Familienbande, ps6atelier, Tübingen
Better than your Neighbour, Kunstverein Wiesen
I Never Read, LA Art Book Fair, Los Angeles (edition)

say my name, say my name, Museum of Modern Art (MMK Zollamt), Frankfurt (catalog)
Jagoda Bednarsky, Laura Schawelka, Giovanni Sortino, Galerie Jacky Strenz, Frankfurt

Ray 2012 projects, RAY Fotografieprojekte and Fotografie Forum, Frankfurt
Feuchters Schwämme, Nordlicht GmbH, Offenbach, part of Luminale 2012
Taking Off, Frankfurt Airport terminal 2, Frankfurt

Junge Kunst mit Zukunft, Museum für angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt
Superposition, Beige Cube, Frankfurt

Städelschüler bei McKinsey & Company, Frankfurt
TOO FAT TOO FIT, Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden (catalog)

Einen Roland für einen Oliver, Kunstverein Wilhelmshöhe Ettlingen.

Awards and Scholarships

Dean’s Grant, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia

One-Year Fulbright Scholarship for Graduates

Preis der Landwirtschaftlichen Rentenbank zum Rundgang der Städelschule

Selected Bibliography  

UCLA (ed.): Fragment, UCLA’s 2015 Southern California MFA Theme Exhibition, Los Angeles.
CalArts (ed.): The CalArts MFA Show, curated by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Los Angeles.
Braun, Tomke: “N’etre Qu’entre” (Camille Bryen) – Nirgendwo sein als im Dazwischen, Frankfurt.

Berardini, Andrew: Sunstroked and Rigorous: Some Notes on CalArts, Art and Education.
Pfaff, Doris: Konkurrenz und Neid als Themen, Main Echo, 1. April.
Ertle, Peter: Späne ja, Holz nein, Schwäbisches Tagblatt, 19. July.
Stromberg, Matt: ArtRX LA,

Städelschule (ed.): Absolventen Städelschule 2013. Say my name, say my name, Frankfurt.
Baumer, Katrin: Making a Name for Yourself – the 2013 graduates of the Städel School exhibit works in the MMK Zollamt,
Jagoda Bednarsky / Laura Schawelka / Giovanni Sortino,

“Schloss Frankfurt Schau” im Presse- und Informationsamt,

Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden (ed.): TOO FAT TOO FIT, Wiesbaden.