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 tells us much more – thanks to them we can deconstruct these concepts on five different levels.
Level one. René Magritte, with his famous pipe, got us into a semantic predicament. The same game can be used to move between levels. But if the Belgian surrealist maestro questioned works on canvas, here we are suspicious of photography itself. When we see a photograph of a building that states the word edificio (building), 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. Whereas photographed coloured blocks do 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. This “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. 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 can be examples of so called unité d´habitation; they are rather 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 neighbour.
Level four. It is equally interesting to think that these modern architectural forms derive from the constructivist tradition. Political and aesthetic ironies are echoed in David Sardaña’s photographs (showing this supposed modernity in full on Spanish autarchy) while Nicolas Grospierre uses architecture developed during communism as a basis. Ideologically opposed regimes that share an absolutist foundation erasing all evidence of democratisation.
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. Decontextualised works show them as elements separated from the integral whole.
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 1970s, used by the regime to appear open and modern. An unhinged urban development that resulted in the accumulation of illogical and even disrespectful recreational buildings along the coast. Removed from their reality, monumentalised 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 universalisation 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.
Nicolas Grospierre & David Sardaña – CECI N’EST PAS UN BÂTIMENT
@ andel’s Hotel Łódź (17 Ogrodowa St., Łódź, Poland)
Opening reception: April 6 at 7.00 PM
The exhibition will be open to the public between April 7 and May 6, 2017
Curator: Inés R. Artola
The Nicolas Grospierre and David Sardaña exhibition is organised under doc! photo magazine patronage.
In Łódź (Poland) it is a widely known story. A rich entrepreneur, Izrael Poznański (1833-1900), one of the icons of the best industrial days of the city, wanting to have enough workers for his factory, decided to build houses for them nearby – the famułas. At the time of the greatest prosperity, nearly 7000 people lived and worked there. Unfortunately, at the end of the Poznański’s empire, the slow agony of the famułas and their inhabitants started. Its very end occurred when it was decided to shut down the Poltex company in 1991. The housing for workers became a no man’s land and its inhabitants were left to fend for themselves. This miserable state would have gone on for ever if not the general renovation of the former housing of Poznański’s factories that started in 2014. The renovation was preceded by a long process of carrying out the residents to other apartments. And it is when Urszula Tarasiewicz appeared at the Ogrodowa Street. She started to document the empty buildings. As she admits: “I have always wanted to be a meter reader to have an opportunity to watch how the people live. It fascinated me since my childhood as the decoration of an interior tells a lot about its inhabitants. Whether they decorate their rooms with photos of their grandparents or they prefer to have calendars with naked women on the walls. But this time it was a bit more difficult as the flats were empty, so everything had to be imagined.”
Indeed. There are deserted rooms in Tarasiewicz’s pictures. Shabby walls from which someone ripped the wiring and on which the outlines of once hanging pictures and standing furniture are still visible. We have got used to such pictures. We see them every time after floods and hurricanes. But as far as in these cases they are the consequences of natural disasters, here everything is caused by man. That is why the photographs are more impressive, they even terrify with their ruthlessness and coldness. Yet they can’t stop us thinking about the people who are not in them. Who were the people who used to live there? Where are they and how are they at the moment? How they worked out their life after having left these flats where many of them had lived for generations?
Urszula Tarasiewicz guides us around the world, which no longer exists. She does it slowly as if she wants to give us enough time to come to the conclusion, that such is the way of things, that cities need permanent progress, otherwise they will meet a systematic and relentless fall and from which they can be saved only by a revolution. Nearby, on the other side of the street, such a revolution has been made – Poznański’s factory has become an elegant shopping mall and a hotel, the post-industrial space attracts people again, which for the famułas residents must seem to be out of this world. It must have been a real shock for them, further evidence of exclusion.
Tarasiewicz’s photos are simply shots. One can’t find there any traces of playing with composition or attempts to interesting frames. Actually they are not to do it. They are not supposed to entertain or comfort the viewers. We are to feel this sadness that must have accompanied the inhabitants of these interiors. We must experience the roughness of the place which we can see going away into the past but thanks to these pictures will remain in our memory.
Urszula Tarasiewicz (b. 1975) | based In Łódź (Poland) | graduate of the Łódź Film School | ennobles absurd and marginal things in her pictures, looks for beauty in kitsch, colour in greyness, and happiness in unhappy people | author of many times awarded and exhibited in many countries New Urban Legends series | her photographs have been shown in such group exhibitions as Critical Mass (USA, 2012), Call me on Sunday (Austria, 2014), Face to Face (Germany, 2014), among others | participant in prestigious portfolio review organised by The New York Times (2015).
Urszula Tarasiewicz – OGRODOWA/GARDEN STREET
@ andel Hotel Łódź (17 Ogrodowa St., Łódź, Poland)
Grand opening: September 8 at 7.00 PM
The exhibition will be open to the public between September 9 and October 10, 2016
The Urszula Tarasiewicz’s exhibition is organised under doc! photo magazine patronage.
Karczeby – this is how in Chachlac dialect (a mixture of Polish and Belorussian languages) people strongly connected with the soil they had been cultivating for generations were called. With their bare hands, Karczeby cleared forests to get new soil for cultivation.
In Chachlac dialect, ‘karczeb’ also means a stump with roots that remains in the ground after a tree is cut down. It was similar to the people – it was not easy to ‘uproot’ them from their land. Under Stalin’s ruling, they paid with their freedom and lives for their affection for their soil.
After death, buried next to the land he farmed, a Karczeb himself became the soil, later cultivated by his descendants.
Adam Pańczuk (b. 1978) | based in Warsaw (Poland) | works everywhere where he finds an interesting topic | studied at Academy of Economics as well as photography at the Multimedia Communication Faculty of Poznan Academy of Fine Arts | member of Sputnik Photos collective |executing his own projects, asks – directly and simultaneously metaphorically – questions about identity, consciousness and attitude towards the world | holder of the Ministry of Culture’s scholarship | easiness with which he uses the image describing his observations resulted in several prestigious rewards, including Picture of the Year, Magnum Expression Award, Grand Press Photo | has published in National Geographic, Newsweek, British Journal of Photography, Le Monde, Esquire, OyodePez, Geo Magazine, Polityka and doc! photo magazine (doc! #15).
Adam Pańczuk – Karczeby
andel’s Hotel Łódź (17 Ogrodowa St., Łódź, Poland). Grand opening: November 26 at 7:00 PM. The exhibition will be open to the public until December 15, 2015.
The exhibition is organised under doc! photo magazine patronage within ANDEL’S PHOTO series.
Arrival and departure, the beginning and the end. Time is experienced in a particular way when you’re staying at a hotel. Viewed from this perspective, the andel’s Hotel Lodz is a unique place where the past is always visible in the present. The structure and elements of the former Izrael Poznański’s factory have determined the hotel’s present form and influenced its future development. The exhibition We Have Time is a reflection on the meaning of time. The works presented here relate to this concept in various ways. It’s also possible to find in each of them the„threads” that link them with the exhibition site.
The show consists of two parts: the public – displayed in the lobby, and the private – presented in the hotel’s suites. The first one consists of Karolina Breguła’sThe Histories of Art and Rafał Milach’s (doc! #19) Very Beautiful Project series of photographs. The second part of the exhibition is more personal and features Monika Drożyńska’s Half of a Whole and Urban Embroidery 3 series as well as Joanna Piotrowska’s Frowst series and pictures from her untitled project.
The exhibition is accompanied by an album additionally including a short story Ravens Live the Longest by Filip Zawada.
Karolina Breguła, Monika Drożyńska, Rafał Milach, Joanna Piotrowska – We Have Time
andel’s Hotel Lodz (17 Ogrodowa St., Lodz, Poland). Opening reception: September 10 at 7:00 PM. The exhibition will be open to the public from September 11 to October 10, 2015
The exhibition is organised under contra doc! patronage.
under contra doc! patronage:
Four different artisitic personalities (photographer – Jacek Kolodziejski, painter – Jan Mioduszewski, and fashion designers – Ola Winiarska & Agata Uchman) in one project being a compilation of fashion desing, photography, painting, and installation – Hybridity of the Subject. What came from the combination of their creativity? Come and check it yourself!
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Jacek Kolodziejski, Jan Mioduszewski, Agata Uchman & Ola Winiarska – Hybridity of the Subject
andel’s Hotel Lodz (17 Ogrodowa St., Lodz, Poland). Grand opening: February 6 at 7:00 PM. The exhibition will be open to the public until March 7, 2015. The exhibition takes place within the ANDEL’S PRESENTS series.