In 2014, Fabi Rettenbacher and Phil Rirsch founded the collaborative project Picture On The Fridge—a creative outlet for their shared love for music, penchant for photography, and passion for film. Cameras in tow, the duo captures the surreal and magical nuances that weave in and out of everyday life.
In celebration of their accomplishments over the last four years, Fabi and Phil hosted a retrospective vernissage on March 3rd in Studio P.O.T.F.. We took the opportunity to visit the duo at their newly opened workspace and gallery in the heart of Vienna, where we chatted about mundane Surrealism, stories in photography, and life in Austria’s capital.
There’s much more to ‘Picture on the Fridge’ than magnets. How did you come up with the name for your collective?
It came to us spontaneously. We’ve always been fascinated by the images that people hang in their homes. Each picture tells its own story. We’re usually more interested in the emotions that an image evokes than the actual motif or picture itself.
Your new studio is right in front of the renowned Vienna Naschmarkt. In what ways does the city inspire you?
We grew up Salzburg and were both eager study in a bigger city. Vienna has become our home. Although the city is a little too big for a country as small as Austria, it’s still quite manageable. It’s a truly fascinating place and we’re inspired by so many things here—the city itself, the mentality, the cosiness, as well as its ‘shabbier’ side and its beauty.
The artworks in your most recent exhibition are all available at JUNIQE. Why did you choose to display these pieces?
We tried to strike a balance between our older and more recent pieces. As it happens, these also act as a retrospective of the work we’ve done with JUNIQE thus far. We wanted to choose pictures that stand on their own, while sharing a common aesthetic. They communicate with each other as a result. Your photography features everything from hot, summer days by the pool to snowy mountain peaks to portraits of strong characters.
What is the central theme that ties everything together?
We approach each photograph in a different way and we’re on a constant quest to extract surrealism from everyday life. In doing so, we attempt to strike a sense of harmony between reality and utopia. Yes, we capture moments in frames, but we never think them all the way through to the very end.
Your diverse portfolio includes photography, film, and music. Which of the three is closest to your hearts and why?
It would definitely have to be a combination of all of the above. Each form of expression comes into play in the right moment. Sometimes these moments overlap, resulting in projects that are interconnected. One form of expression in itself just wouldn’t cut it for us. Thankfully, we don’t have to choose between one or the other.
How do you approach photography as a team?
We spend a lot of time together, so we share a lot experiences which we look at from different perspectives. Once we’ve taken a bunch of photos, we print them out and sort them. In doing so, our photos become an overview of the shared experience. Finally, we try to hash out their similarities and contrasts, as well as identify emotions they evoke as a whole. In the best-case scenario they end up becoming a series.
Some of your work is analogue and some is digital. How do you choose between the two?
To be honest, it really depends on the mood. We usually opt for digital when we know in advance that we’re planning on taking a lot of photos. Both of our backgrounds are in analogue photography, so it still accompanies our process till this day. Sometimes we’re just in the mood for analogue, and on other days we’re more in the mood for digital. It’s a bit difficult to define.
What pictures are hanging on your fridge?
Our work doesn’t make it onto our fridge, because we’d never be able to put that much pressure on a single photograph. But it would also be a bit bland if the fridge in our studio were bare, so we stuck on a couple of stickers and taped up a funny note from the postman addressed to ‘Fridger’.
Text: Valeria Sambale
Translation: Maia Frazier