MEN Max Oettli
Oettli’s work is an unorthodox reworking of the traditional genre of portraiture, in which he divulges his belief in the redundancy of men in the modern world. He notes that “We [men]...are no longer needed...work, the reproductive function, all of that can be taken over by clones and various automatons.”
Oettli's unconventional approach is made clear in his process. The series MEN consists of images that have been discarded by others. They are cast off remnants collected whilst elbow-deep in recycled paper bins:
“My strategy, quite spontaneously arrived at, is to see what I can ferret out: Newspapers, magazines, porn, scandal, all is good for the mill. I extract the heads of my men, and give them names in categories in relation to the context and the captions of the images I find, Lonelyman, Deadman, Sexyman or whatever and a sequential number.”
These found images are then printed as large-format colour portraits with an engineer’s plotter.
Oettli is currently Principal Lecturer in the Photography Department of the Otago Polytechnic School of Art. Immigrating to New Zealand from Switzerland as a boy, he initially trained at Elam School of Fine Art and became an important presence in New Zealand photography scene during the late 1960s and early 1970s. His career saw him return to Switzerland, where he specialised in urban and architectural photography. Oettli’s works are represented in both national and international public collections.