Beat Steuli is a Swiss visual artist who commonly works with photo and video based media. He is more well known for photographs, video and extensive window installations. His most successful works are based on the streets of many different cities across the world including Tokyo, Sydney, Athens and New York. He focuses souls on the urban corners of the world and the individuals that make up these different societies.
Streuli photographs individuals who tread the world’s stage with self-assertion and evident self-possession. In a shot from his project in New York, a young woman is waiting at a pedestrian crossing, she feels unobserved standing deep in thought, she is unaware that a photo camera is focusing on her. The woman is wearing a thin, close fitting pair of fabric trousers and a top that clings to the contours of her body. She is of an age that marks a transitional phase. Streuli has said himself he “deliberately chooses people living in the phase between youth and adulthood”. He highlights a situation that encapsulates a much greater, global reality. The subjects of his photographs is observers and calculated to make an impression. All strive for individuality, but all are variants of a type of metropolitan youth with an internationally shared, generation specific way of presentation wether that be in clothing, accessories, gestures and postures.
Strueli works with simple and contemporary means. He has time to observe and select his subject because his entire set up he preconceived. He sets up his telescopic lens and flash before taking any picture which allows him to watch what it unfolding around him and choose when he presses the shutter to take the image. The set us is deigned to separate and isolate a subject from the background meaning the audience is able to concentrate wholely on the person in a public space. The harsh flash illuminates factors of the background making the images much more dynamic and stimulating. The narrow angle of this perspective triggers optical forces that make for a visual intensification.
Often, however, Streuli will not focus on people unless they momentarily drop ‘their public face’. The people ‘often have a somewhat absent expression because Streuli is looking for truthful images. Overall his image are raw and gritty in aesthetic effect, the images are made much more powerful if they are truthful right to the core. He waits for the person to be themselves, a small vulnerable moment that shows their true self while the go about their day to day business.
I think that this adds a lot of emotion to Streuli’s images. No image is even remotely the same as each person has different mannerisms and expressions and feelings that are all evident and highlighted through his use of flash which intensifies this. I particularly like his images of younger people, although he approaches this in the same way his does all of his other images, I feel that it can be used to show other adolescents that they are not alone is this uncertain time in their lives. It presents that overall sense of unity that there are so many people in New York but some of that can feel the same way that you, the viewer, are feeling. It blurs the lines between contemporary hierarchies and social discrimination.