Lying Still (2010-2016)

The images in Lying Still examine notions of the self, mortality, sexuality, intimacy, roles and relationships and their ever-evolving structures. Through the use of staging, I examine the artist’s relationship to the camera, while both observing and being observed. Acting as disruptions to the daily routine, my images use rich iconography and symbolism that displaces the viewer’s expectations of the everyday, creating a psychological landscape that is as treacherous as it is poetic.

With the inclusion of found press images from the 1950s and 60s depicting natural disasters, macabre scenes, women performing and modeling for the camera, and other black and white photographs, my intention was to create a multifaceted dialogue that spans generations and brings into question female representation and its relationship to the camera. Through the blending of created and found imagery, my work points towards collective experience and exposes the desires, urges and fears that exist latently in our subconscious and reveal themselves against the backdrop of the domestic space.




Originally from Germany, Birthe Piontek moved to Canada in 2005 after receiving her MFA from the University of Essen in Communication Design and Photography.

Birthe describes her art practice as an exploration of the individual while being especially interested in questions around memory, the subconscious, as well as the topic of female identity and its representation in our society. Her main focus is photography but she also utilizes other art forms like installation, assemblage and collage to investigate to what degree our complex identities can be visualized.

Her work has been exhibited internationally, in both solo and group shows, and is featured in many private and public collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and the Museum of Applied Arts in Gera, Germany.

Birthe's project The Idea of North won the Critical Mass Book Award 2009, and was published as a monograph in 2011. She was nominated for the AIMIA AGO Award 2014, and her project Lying Still was shortlisted for the Edward Burtinsky Grant in 2016.

Her work has appeared in a number of international publications like The New York Times Magazine, Le Monde, Wired and The New Yorker among others.

Birthe is a member of the Piece of Cake Project.