ETH 15 (Via Mala)
"ETH 15 (Via Mala)", C-Print, 120 x 240 cm
2000 – 2002
Peter Bialobrzeski, Oliver Boberg, Naoya Hatakeyama, Taiji Matsue, Javier Vallhonrat, Christian Wolter
January 11th. bis February 24th. 2007
You and your friends are cordially invited to the opening on Friday, 11 January 2007, at 7 p.m.
In January and February 2007, L. A. Gallery is presenting a group exhibition by artists of the gallery with works revolving around the topic of landscape. The title of the exhibition, "New Territories," can be read on a number of levels; the implicit associations with discovery and development refer both to formal aspects and to the contents of the works shown. The resulting composition was surprising even to us, in that all but one of the participating artists approach their landscapes in a highly aesthetic way. The pictures, originated between the mid-1980s and today, all embrace a respectful, at times almost devotional attitude towards the subject, implying, like in a still-life, the presence of something very precious and ephemeral.
Japanese artist Taiji Matsue (b. 1963) in the early 1990s began a project of describing the surface of the Earth through black-and-white photos. He searched for landscapes embodying characteristic, homogenous structures which he could capture from an elevated position. These pictures with their sheer endless, minutely differentiated shades of grey and their morphological view of the landscape seem objective and romantic at the same time. The archaic landscapes chosen by Matsue for his photographs have been shaped only by atmospheric conditions surrounding them, and will remain as they are for a very long time to come.
Naoya Hatakeyama (b. 1958), on the other hand, in his "Lime Hills" series (1986-91) depicts the transformation of the landscape through limestone extraction for the production of concrete, the material Japan's fast-growing cities are built of. The limestone is removed on roads concentrically paved around the mountains; the quarries forge ahead further and further into the mountains; the landscape changes. In Naoya Hatakeyama's color photographs this process reminds one of Breughel's famous painting of the Tower of Babel, a gigantic, extravagant edifice growing out of the landscape.
In the "ETH 2000" series by Javier Vallhonrat (b. 1953), large-format photographs depict bridge constructions in the Swiss mountains. Takes from the Swiss canton of Grisons are shown side-by-side with pictures of models, and at first glance the two kinds are almost indistinguishable. The way the pictures are designed evokes the early days of landscape photography and creates the illusion of them being typical historical documents of the pioneer achievements in road and bridge construction. The imperviousness of the bridges and the twilight engulfing them open up another dimension; they can be read, in a very broad sense, as metaphors of remembrance - unreachable landscapes, faded and submerged in semi-darkness, inexplorable and yet clearly out there.
In the works of Oliver Boberg (b. 1965), landscapes do not play a central role; his constructions usually depict pieces of architecture. He has, however, repeatedly dealt with the subject in film and photography. For the model maker, landscapes provide quite a challenge: modeling vegetation in a convincing way - making it look real at first glance at least - is difficult. Among the artists participating in the "New Territories" exhibition, Boberg is the only one who does not idealize landscapes in any way. He searches for the paradigmatic non-place, those areas that we come across on a daily basis, but have banned from any conscious awareness.
The landscapes of the "Heimat" ("Home") series by Peter Bialobrzeski (b. 1961) actually exist. They are German landscapes, places which evoke memories, but which, as compositions and with their attention to scenic details and sentiments, also bring to mind the landscapes of the Romantic period. The photographer's view on these landscapes is unhampered by programmatic intentions, their radiance overpoweringly beautiful.
Christian Wolter (b. 1968) in his "Blühende Landschaften" * embraces industrial and construction projects which due to misplanning were stopped at some point before their commissioning. These constructs as photographed by Wolter just stand there, still and useless, often surrounded by a vegetation of pioneer plants that are reclaiming the land once developed. In that it documents big-scale misplannings in so-called economically underdeveloped areas, there is a political dimension to this series in addition to its aesthetic qualities - each photograph tells an almost unbelievable story of defeat.
* Literally "blooming landscapes"; a reference to a speech delivered by former Chancellor Helmut Kohl during German unification, in which he wrongly predicted swift economic success and prosperity for the newly formed east German states. Today the expression is often used ironically to refer to broken promises.
Press Release as pdf-File 259 KB
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