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Robert Rutöd

Austrian Photographer

Robert Rutöd was born 1959 in Vienna, Austria. Early pursuit of painting; from 1978 on photography. Works from these years later appeared with some of his absurd texts in the book grayscales. early b&w photographs 1978-1988.

Between 1979 and 1993, Robert Rutöd wrote screenplays and directed short films. In the mid-90s, he increasingly devoted himself to the design of books and applications for digital media. In 2004 he returned to photography; since 2009, he presents these images to a wider audience.

In his projects, Robert Rutöd investigates the paradox Human with its sometimes tragicomic aspects. In 2009 the photo book Less Is More resulted from that and three years later, the series Right Time Right Place has been finished. For this he received several awards including the New York Photo Award 2012, the Special Prize of the Czech Center of Photography, and most recently Artist of the Year at Dong Gang International Photo Festival in South Korea. In 2017 he completed his series Fair(y) Tales, retelling an almost ten-year expedition through the burlesque realm of trade fairs and exhibition areas.

Rutöd’s photographs have been shown worldwide at numerous photography festivals and exhibitions; his work has been widely published in magazines and on blogs. Robert Rutöd lives and works in Vienna.

(Source: Robert Rutöd Website)


Right Time Right Place
Being at the right place at the right time is usually associated with happiness and success. But what happens when we are at the right place at the wrong time? Do we even know that this is the right place? And what if it turns out that it is the wrong place after all? But the right time!

“Right Time Right Place” is a collection of photographs I made in the last five years on my travels through Europe. The images revolve around the question of whether it is possible for a person to be in the right place at the right time. Is the ideal state of space and time something we are awarded or is it a state we have long been living in without being aware of our good fortune?

I hope I have not succeeded in answering this question. Nothing fails more pathetically than an artist’s attempt to explain the world and its relationships. Rather, my work leads to the conclusion that the world cannot be explained. Once an exhibition visitor in New York told me that, when viewing my photos, she felt that the protagonists seemed to be kind of disobedient. I really liked that interpretation.

"What Robert Rutöd brings to the contemporary photographic dialogue is that intangible ability to see the world with a skewed lens - a lens that is compassionate and at the same time, unkind. It is a lens that is the stuff of operas and nightmares, comedies and slapstick. Robert finds that split second of humor or truth telling and that instant of social documentation or absurdity that makes us not only laugh at ourselves, but also laugh and feel embarrassed all at the same time. Or should I say, at The Right Time." (Aline Smithson, from the foreword to the book „Right Time Right Place“)

“Right Time Right Place” was awarded the Special Prize of the Czech Center of Photography at the Photo Annual Awards 2012. A photo from the series won the New York Photo Award 2012 in the category Fine Art.


Exclusive Interview with Robert Rutöd:

AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?
At a certain point I can't remember. I guess, at the moment when I was pleased with my photographs.

AAP: Where did you study photography?
I'm self-taught...

AAP: How long have you been a photographer?
In total, maybe twenty years, with shorter and a long breaks and also a hiatus for more than ten years.

AAP: Do you remember your first shot? What was it?
Tough question, my very first photographs were still largely staged. That reminds me of the corpse of a young man, with countless clothespins on the upper body, or a self-portrait in which I am seen with a pair of shoes on my shoulders.

AAP: How could you describe your style?
Style is not something that you choose; it happens, to a certain extent, over time. In photography, a signature style is often more difficult to discover, sort of like in painting. A graphologist might interpret my works thusly: "Easy to read, no scrawling, he's going on rapidly and purposefully in problem-solving and asks the right questions at the right moment." I could then add: "Regarding the content, rather puzzling over long distances."

AAP: What kind of gear do you use? Camera, lens, digital, film?
One digital camera, one good lens.

AAP: What or who inspires you?
Since my work is not staged, I'm only inspired when the photographic event unfolds before my eyes, a reverse brainstorming so to speak.

AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?
Yes, to edit my own photographs is sometimes a lengthy process. The pictures have to go through some tests to be integrated into an ongoing project. This decision-making is sometimes damn hard to reach; it helps to let a few weeks or even months pass.

AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?
Not to listen to any advice...

AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?
None! Because there is no such thing as error, in fact, and consequently no recipe for success.

AAP: Your best memory as a photographer?
A fair for undertakers and the fashion show taking place there, including a coffin on the stage.

AAP: Your worst souvenir as a photographer?
The cluelessness of so many "experts."

AAP: If you could have taken the photographs of someone else who would it be?
I am satisfied so far with my work, as I want to get into the skin of others. Of course there's truly great work that I would like to see in my portfolio, "Royal Harare Golf Club" by Martin Parr for example, one or two pictures by Helen Levitt.

AAP: An idea, a sentence, a project you would like to share?
First the bad news: The publication date of my book "Milky Way" has been moved to next year. Now the good: I'm very happy about the positive echo that my series "Right Time Right Place" caused since its release about a year ago, including my participation in festivals in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Delhi, or recently at the Miami Street Photography Festival. In January 2014, my project will be a solo exhibition to be seen. “eigensinnig“ (stubborn) is the name of the new gallery in Vienna, whose founder Toni Tramezzini, is aiming to show something that is rarely seen in this city: something that's not serial, not conceptual, not staged photography.

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