We cordially invite you to join us and the artists Nicolas Grospierre and David Sardaña to celebrate the opening of the show Ceci n´est pas un bâtiment. The exhibition is hosted by the andel’s Łódź and Warimpex Finanz- und Beteiligungs AG, as part of the project ANDEL’S QUARTER.
Curator Inés R. Artola
Hotel Andel´s Vienna House (Łódź). Opening: April 6th , 2017, 7:00 P.M.
Realism, distance and documentarian objectivity are concepts that emerge at the first thought of photography on modern architecture. None the less, the work of Nicolas Grospierre and David Sardaña selected for this exhibition tells us much more. In fact, it is thanks to them, we can deconstruct this logic of concepts on up to five different levels. As if it were, indeed, an elevator. Let’s go up.
Level one. René Magritte, with his famous pipe, got us into a semantic predicament. It is with this same game that we begin the journey, although giving it another twist: if the Belgian surrealist maestro questioned works on canvas, here we are suspicious of photography itself.
But, when we see a photograph of a building that states the word „edificio” [building] as occurs with one of Sardaña’s images, don’t we stop seeing it or even „believing it”? Even as a direct shot, the reality of the image dissolves „caused by” the word. A frame that isn’t accidental puts us in a different state, beyond words and things. Grospierre with his „Kolorobloki” [Colored Blocks] does just the opposite process, but with similar results: the photographic editing is so subtle that it cannot be detected. Buildings that aren’t buildings.
Level two. To think of modern architecture is to think of Le Corbusier. „The most practical, democratic and visionary architect of our time” in the words of Berger, left a widely known legacy that was extended throughout the world… very misunderstood. You only need to stop in front of the images in this exhibition. If the notion of modernity implies a promise of future, then: why when we contemplate these photographed buildings do we automatically think „how long will they last?”, „are they still standing today?”. It is hard to believe that they are examples of the named unité d´habitation but more so a way of transforming architecture into an efficient business that is sadly perishable.
Level three. The modulor by Le Corbusier, the human scale that should be the foundation of inhabitable architecture, is called into question when observing the vertically cramped accumulation and the urban landscape found in these photographs. Forms that one day wanted to give a neutral element to the ensemble without keeping man in mind. Now a shelter for multitudes, they have been transformed into swarms that secrete as many worlds as they do windows. Façades that house distinct microcosms. Mass-produced geometric shapes mocked by umbrellas, clothespins, awnings and plants. Decorations that are only comprehended by the free imagination of their neighbor.
Level four. It is curious, at the very least, to think that these modern architectural forms arise from a constructivist tradition to end up just leaping across the pond, adapting paradoxically to the profit driven media and space in the purest capitalist sense of the term. Political and aesthetic ironies are echoed in Sardaña’s photographs (showing this supposed modernity in full on Spanish autarchy) while Grospierre uses architecture developed during communism as a basis. Ideologically opposed regimes that share an absolutist foundation erasing all evidence of democratization.
Level five. Taking the selected buildings out of context is a strategy undertaken by both photographers. Used as isolated subjects, the interpretation of their reality is altered. Here, with a new twist, we decontextualize these works, separating them from their usual cast of members (the photographic series to which they belong) to also deconstruct on curatorial level.
David Sardaña’s work belongs to the „Levantine Rationalism” series, a set of photographs of the architecture from Spanish eastern coast that proliferated during the touristic boom of the 70s, used by the regime to appear open and modern. An unhinged urban development that resulted in the accumulation (illogical and even disrespectful) of recreational buildings along the coast. Removed from their reality, monumentalized with frontal perspectives or low angles, Sardaña work gives them back their dignity, delves into their abstract origin, extracting their battered beauty and showing the universality of their forms.
The buildings that compile Nicolas Grospierre’s Atlas are a detailed and exhaustive game of abstraction, which only demonstrate the universalization of modern forms. A modernity, however, seen through the cracks of its decline as a broken promise of future. If we consider the ironic wink of his Kolorobloki, we reach the highlight of our discourse: what seems like documentary photography is but a montage and clear sarcasm.
Et voilá… Ceci n´est pas un bâtiment.
(And voilá… This is not a building.)