Katharina Sieverding is a German photographer, who reprocesses, enlarges, and recombines mass-media source material. She specializes in self-portraiture often presented in a series, using extreme close-ups of herself to note the face as a primary site of communication.
Sieverding studied art at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Dusseldorf between 1964 and 1967 where she studied sculpture with Joseph Beuys until 1972. She attended the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1976.
Sieverding has a strong political sensitivity as she studies mass media’s representation of politically motivated violence and its perpetrators. She stages the visual codes of sensationalistic photographic news reportage to demystify popular mythology, especially that of the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorist organization.
Sieverding’s “Battlefield Germany x/78” draws out the mass media’s dramatizing tactics through the enlargement, montage, and photochemical manipulation of an existing photograph of a group of armed, uniformed militia. She created a powerfully graphic, monumental copy of the photograph, pieced together from four separate panels and reproduced in black and deep pink. The fiery strong backdrop and the fractured effect of the montage intensify the contours of the faceless soldiers. They pose anxiously, waiting to fire their weapons at an unknown enemy. Produced the year after the peak of RAF violence in West Germany, this work pointed to the ongoing legacy of political fanaticism and violence in Germany. By exaggerating the visual drama of this news photograph, she reveals how the mass media represented the brigade’s dynamism but disregarded the consequences of their violence.
Sieverding has taken part in Documenta 5, 6, and 7. She has had solo exhibitions in Germany, Netherlands, Paris, and the Guggenheim Museum among others.