Corinna Schnitt working with Marfa High School students

Corinna Schnitt

In her exhibition at Chinati entitled Making Time, Corinna Schnitt showed a selection of short films and photographs made over the past eight years, as well as films and written pieces created by Marfa High School students at informal workshops that Schnitt conducted during her Chinati residency.

Schnitt’s work strikes a delicate balance between fact and fiction. She recontextualizes everyday situations by incorporating the voices, opinions, and physical idiosyncrasies of real people she encounters at home and on her travels into foreign or dream-like settings. In 2003, while living in Los Angeles, Schnitt asked 14-year-olds to describe their idea of happiness. The answers formed the basis for the short film Living a Beautiful Life (2003), in which the teens’ responses are transformed into a script delivered by a conventionally attractive man and woman against the backdrop of an impersonal luxury home in Beverly Hills. Utter normalcy flip-flops with the bizarre throughout the film—intentionally childish clichés are mixed with quirky lines; a homescape filled with polished apples and spotless countertops suddenly yields a parrot flapping behind a clear glass door. Living a Beautiful Life was shown at Chinati with a selection of other short films Schnitt has shot within the last decade in the United States and Europe.

Making Time also featured large-scale color photographs depicting German children on city streets staring straight into the camera while holding snakes. These prints were shown in tandem with statements written by Marfa High School students in answer to the same question Schnitt had posed to children in Los Angeles: “How do you imagine a beautiful life?” During her stay in Marfa, Schnitt collaborated regularly on film projects with children enrolled at the Marfa Youth Center, a local afterschool program, and exhibited them at a special screening at the Locker Plant.

Schnitt lives and works in Cologne, Germany. Her work has been included in group shows at venues including Kunsthalle Göppingen in Germany, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, and the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, Germany. In 2004 Schnitt had a solo exhibition at the Galerie Fricke in Düsseldorf. Schnitt’s films have been shown in international film festivals, including the 6th Biennial on Media and Architecture in Graz, Austria. She has participated in residency programs at the Schloss Ringenberg in Germany (2004) and at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles (2003). In spring of 2005 she was a visiting professor at California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. Schnitt holds degrees in art from the University of Visual Communication in Offenbach, Germany and the Art Academy in Düsseldorf.