25
May
11

Exhibition: ‘You Are Here: Architecture and Experience’ at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

Exhibition dates: 5th March – 29th May 2011

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Inspired curating conjoins the monumental, classicist purity of Höfer with the picturesque, dystopian (dis)quietude of Gaillard in an exhibition that investigates our relationship to buildings and their environments and their relationship to us – the ‘i’ in our histor-i-city.

Many thankx to the Carnegie Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Candida Höfer
German, b. 1944
Ballettzentrum Hamburg III
2000
Chromogenic print
Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery

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Cyprien Gaillard
French, b. 1980
Belief in the Age of Disbelief (L’arbre incliné/étape VI)
2005
etching
36 x 47 cm
© Cyprien Gaillard
Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin, London

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Candida Höfer
German, b. 1944
Fundação Bienal de São Paulo XI
2005
Chromogenic print
81 3/8 x 71 7/8 in.
Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery

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“Carnegie Museum of Art presents the powerful work of two contemporary artists – Candida Höfer and Cyprien Gaillard – who explore architectural environments and how they influence experiences and perceptions of the world.

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” With that simple but profound insight, Winston Churchill conveyed people’s complex relationship to architecture: The physical form of a building is controlled by its designer, but the impact a constructed environment has can be unpredictable, emotional, and even visceral. That dynamic is evident in the upcoming exhibition You Are Here: Architecture and Experience, which brings together the photographs of German artist Candida Höfer and a video and etchings by French artist Cyprien Gaillard. Both artists express the formative power of architecture in different but complementary ways, according to Tracy Myers, curator of architecture at the Heinz Architectural Center and organizer of the exhibition.

Candida Höfer’s lush color photographs of ornate historical and contemporary interior spaces are usually devoid of humans, yet they reveal details that draw the viewer into a consideration of what each place means. Höfer’s photographs usually focus on spaces of cultural and social activity. Printed very large (from about 4 x 4 feet to a massive 6 x 8 feet), the 17 photographs in You Are Here represent the range of Höfer’s work in terms of scale, point of view, building type, and geographical location.

By contrast, Cyprien Gaillard’s video Desniansky Raion and his meticulously detailed etchings probe the human legacy of Modernist high-rise housing blocks. Constructed after World War II throughout the United States, Europe, and the Eastern Bloc to provide decent housing, these buildings often became warehouses for the poor and incubators of crime and antisocial behaviors.

Named for an administrative district in Kiev, Desniansky Raion poignantly reflects on the gap between the utopian Modernist aspiration for universal housing and the banal reality that instead prevailed. It comprises three parts. In the first section, weekend fight clubs of 50 or 100 people face off against each other in a pugilistic ritual set against the backdrop of housing towers in St. Petersburg, Russia. The second part shows the implosion of a similar tower in Meaux, a small city near Paris; the demolition of the building was treated by the city government as a literal spectacle, with a light show and fireworks preceding the destruction. The final third is a very long panning aerial shot of seemingly endless ranks of virtually identical housing blocks in Kiev, Ukraine. The video is accompanied by a soundtrack composed by Koudlam, a young musician born in the Ivory Coast. Also featured are six etchings by Gaillard, collectively titled Belief in the Age of Disbelief, in which the Modernist housing tower is placed in classic picturesque landscapes.

“Gaillard’s video packs a powerful and direct emotional punch: each time I view it, I experience physically the anticipation that ebbs and flows through the course of the work,” said Myers. “By contrast, Höfer’s photographs embody a kind of quietude that encourages slow, sustained exploration of the meaning that builds through accumulation of detail. But both works are equally affecting and bring the viewer with compelling intensity into the realm of architectural experience. Höfer and Gaillard capture the constant oscillation between what we make of our buildings, and what they make of us.”

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Artists’ Biographies

Candida Höfer has been creating photographs for more than 30 years. Born in Eberswalde, Germany, in 1944, she studied with Berndt Becher and is identified with a group of German artists – Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, Axel Hütte, and Thomas Struth – best known for their unsentimental photographs of architecture, landscapes, and urban developments. Höfer has made interiors her focus.

Cyprien Gaillard, born in Paris in 1980 and currently based in Berlin, explores contemporary landscapes and buildings in a variety of media, including video, painting, and etchings. Much of his work is concerned with the legacy and inheritance of buildings and landscapes that are left to us, and the ways in which we interact with them.”

Press release from the Carnegie Museum of Art website

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Cyprien Gaillard
French, b. 1980
Desniansky Raion
video still
2007
DVD, 30 min.
Edition of 5
© Cyprien Gaillard. Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin, London

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Candida Höfer
German, b. 1944
Pinacoteca Querini Stampalia Venezia I
2003
Chromogenic print
60 15/16 x 73 in.
Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery

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Candida Höfer
German, b. 1944
Palacio Nacional de Mafra VII
2006
Chromogenic print
61 x 69 1/8 in.
Collection Zibby and Andrew Right, New York

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Cyprien Gaillard
French, b. 1980
Belief in the Age of Disbelief (Banja Luca)
2005
etching
36 x 47 cm
© Cyprien Gaillard
Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin, London

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Candida Höfer
German, b. 1944
Musee du Louvre Paris XX
2005
Chromogenic print
78 3/4 x 95 5/8 in
Courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery

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Carnegie Museum of Art
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080
T: 412.622.3131

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Sunday: noon – 5 p.m.
Monday: Closed
Closed major holidays

Carnegie Museum of Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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