Reiner Riedler

A project about sweat. These are not photographs in the true sense of the word, nor are they photograms - the secret lies somewhere in between: There is physical contact between the people depicted and their likenesses: sweating people are covered with specially treated cotton cloths. In contact with sweat, these cloths change colour, which is reproduced in the finished picture in nuanced grey tones. The material of the negative consists of opaque cotton, the exhibited positive is a modern pigment print.

„In today’s world, sweating is taboo. Enter “sweat” into any search engine and you’ll find a multitude of ways to remedy it. The huge array of deodorants available commercially is an indication of just how unacceptable sweating is in everyday life. Sweat is embarrassing: a sign of poor hygiene. Body odor is ‘disgusting’. Faces cringe when confronted with it. Even as far back as the Bible, sweat was equated with hardship. When Adam was expelled by God, for example, he was condemned thenceforth to earn his daily bread By the Sweat of His Brow (Genesis 3, 19).

Sweat may well owe a good part of its poor reputation to its anti-social stench, but it also has negative connotations due to its association with fear. A sweaty handshake betrays nervousness. When you wake up bathed in sweat at night, it’s more likely due to nightmares or anxiety than to faulty air conditioning.

Photographer Reiner Riedler has discovered sweat as an artistic form of expression. Fascinated by the image captured by the sweat on his T-shirt after jogging – like a spontaneous self-portrait – he has used the sweat produced by others to create a series of images. In order to achieve this, he approached the renowned Fraunhofer Institute in Munich which provided him with a special sensory material that could be placed above or underneath his perspiring models. In doing so, Riedler used the sweaty body as a kind of rubber stamp to create life-size negatives. He then photographed these and transformed them into monochrome paper prints.“

Vreni Hockenjos, Excerpt from the book text.

The book itself is the work of art. There are many possible media, whether pigment prints, cyanotypes or the book itself. So Leporello tells the whole story. Two books put together make a complete exhibition of the whole work.


View video of performance at Photo Kaunas

View timelapse video at Viennese city hall