20 July 2020
20 July 2020 - Selected by PHmuseum
Combining documentary imagery with found footage and staged photographs, Silas Bahr presents a docu-fiction series that questions the inherent indexical potential of photography and the simultaneous uncertainty around falsehoods and reality.
In Schmidrüti, a small Swiss village outside Zürich lives the only person who is in contact with intelligent aliens. That is what "Billy" Eduard Albert Meier, an 82-year-old Swiss man, claims. As proof, he serves an extensive collection of photographs and videos, which show spaceships and other traces of aliens in unusually high quality.
In his so-called "Contact Reports", transcripts of Meyer's alleged conversations with a Pleiadian called Semjase, he prophesies, among other things, the extinction of mankind due to overpopulation and provides explanations on innumerable questions and phenomena. But not only do the Pleiadians know about our future, but they also know about our past: Jesus, Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton, they all had contacts with aliens and, according to Billy, are misrepresented by our history books.
Despite extensive criticism concerning the authenticity of Meier's photographs, his followers around the world insist on their authenticity. The series "Semjase’s Friend" plays with this uncertainty as a state of mind: Are we alone in the universe or are they already among us? And what about the relationship of photography to fiction?
We see and we believe - despite knowing about possible manipulations. We doubt and yet become accomplices: Billy really saw them, because the photographs bear witness to that… Through photography, Meier has constructed a fictive reality that, as a coherent knowledge system, provides answers and possible solutions to urgent real questions. By combining documentary photographs with found footage and staged photographs, the series questions the inherent indexical potential of photography and the simultaneous uncertainty about fiction and reality.
Words and Pictures by Silas Bahr.
Silas Bahr (1992) lives and works as a freelance photographer in Berlin, Germany. In his independent long-term and research-led projects he focuses on social phenomena and hidden traces of society. His aim is to find and tell stories, that stay true to the subject while challenging common views. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.
This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.
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