Tell me the Truth

12 Views on reality

The subject is simple: a somewhat weathered, tapered concrete pier of the bridge at the Birsfelden Power Plant surrounded by water. I photographed this view during a jog on a Sunday in January, when it was heavily snowing. Months later I photographed the same motif on a rainy day, the Rhine was in flood and the locks of the power plant were open.

When I later revised the image, I remembered the January shot and compared the two images. It seemed as if one was a negative of the other. In the winter image, the snow-covered pier stood out white against the calm black water; in spring, it was the wet pier that conveyed steadfastness, black and solid in the white foaming spray of the water. I was thrilled.

Matthias Maier | Tell me the truth

In the following months, I photographed this subject several times, in different weather and at different times of the day. Each time the result was a different view, different colors, a different overall impression.

12 views on reality

Which picture corresponds to the truth? Does any truth exist at all? If I were to describe this pillar in the water to someone, what would I say? Is it black and the water blue or is it brown and the water green? And what if someone only saw the pillar at a certain time? For example, when it was just light gray surrounded by turquoise water? And another saw the pillar then, when it was black in the gray water? What if both of them started to argue about what was the truth? Both of them will claim to have seen it that way. Both will be convinced that they have proof, that the other is wrong.

Matthias Maier | Tell me the truth

Here again, the filters – season, weather, time of day – cause the existence of multiple realities, i.e. the subject I deal with in my works. If it is already so difficult to describe a simple, real existing subject with only two components, what about more complex views? With opinions we have on certain subjects, with arguments or political views we argue about. “Tell me the truth” wants to convey the awareness, that everything could be completely different and is a call for more tolerance towards other opinions.

Matthias Maier | Tell me the truth

Remember: Even if we may have it internalized in our heads: Water is not only blue and concrete is not gray.


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