Madrid’s Prado Museum, home of one of the largest and most important art collections in the world, in the spring of 2007 served as the setting for an unusual Spanish-German exhibition project. Thomas Struth, one of the leading figures of the Düsseldorf school of photography, had a selection of his notorious large-format Museum Photographs on display. Some of his photos, which had been shot shortly before in the Prado, were installed in the immediate vicinity of the originals, thereby provoking a peculiar mise en abyme effect (i.e., the sensation of standing between two mirrors).
At its core, the series draws attention to the unexpected perceptions that the medium of photography can offer, in particular the different perceptions associated with photographic images taken in a museum – such as the various interactions taking place between the visitor/viewer and the museum space, exhibition and art on display. These interactions are made especially interesting through Struth’s representation of Velazquez's famous Las Meninas, a painting which itself “operates” with inscrutable reflections, different spatial levels and the unequaled interplay of glances. Ultimately, this raises the question: Who is watching whom, and what is being watched?
“In certain cases, I asked people to stay fixed in their position, but the effect was already lost. Those photographs don’t work, because photography is so sensitive a medium that one can’t lie using it.„