Margherita Spiluttini
und dann (reframing architecture)

Infos

Duration
21.4.2012 – 10.6.2012

Exhibition talk
5.5.2012, 5pm

Thomas D. Trummer and Margherita Spiluttini
Within the frame of aktuelle kunst in graz, Galerientage 2012

Screening
22.5.2012, 6:30pm

Aglaia Konrad, »Concrete & Samples«
Courtesy: Auguste Orts, Brüssel / Brussels.

Margherita Spiluttini
und dann (reframing architecture)

Margherita Spiluttini, Cartoon Museum Basel, CH, Architekten Herzog & de Meuron, 1996.

Intro

Spiluttini is indisputably the expert in contemporary architecture photography. The beginning of work of this photographer based in Vienna dates back to experiences she had during the first photo symposia at Camera Austria, in those days held at the Forum Stadtpark, a pavilion that was likewise constructed proximate to a historicised fountain. Spiluttini does commission work. She made a name for herself by documenting architectural work, such as that of Hermann Czech, Rüdiger Lainer, Herzog & de Meuron, Heinz Tesar, Zaha Hadid, or work by the teams of ARTEC, Eichinger oder Knechtl, henke und schreieck Architekten, lichtblau.wagner, Katzberger + Bily, or propeller z. Her hallmark is an extremely precise exposure technique. Depth of field, scrupulously precise framing, and cool perspectives make a lasting impression. Sustained appeal is fostered in the pictures through the presence of a quiet vacuity. A sense of bustle or liveliness never arises, and utilisation or serviceability only on rare occasions. At issue here is “pure building” (Spiluttini). And yet the artist emphasises personal aspects through her photographic methods. This is due especially to the plate cam- era technique, which portrays the image selection with reduced lighting, upside down, and inverted. “The black cloth covering both head and camera, which is meant to facilitate the view of the focusing screen, fosters a kind of intimacy between myself and the inverted detail of reality; this strongly intensifies concentration on the two-dimensional representational qualities of that which is in front of me.” The result of this concentrated viewing situation is a visually perceptible elegance. It is as if both dated and new buildings had become frozen in the stringently methodical gaze of the photo, thus achieving a state of mutual timelessness, something of a contemporary-bound classicism. For in the well-proportioned photographs, the temporal layers fuse together with absolute precision of resolution. Progress and continuity, the innovative and the conventional, functional building and landmark all become contemporaneous at the same time. Structures and spaces are captured in a state that is only made possible by an image, which cannot age since it cannot be lived in and used. For it is the photograph which records a particular present moment in time, unconcerned with its historical estimation. At the same time, this present moment is a situative documentation of the here and now, a view of the present as “found”. In this sense, Spiluttini proves to be a sensitive chronicler of the gears of time, and she in turn operates—as she herself notes—while keeping in mind a “radical acknowledgement of found material” (Spiluttini), in the spirit of Peter and Alison Smithson, who as architects argued against the renewal of old structures.

Full text

Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)

Contemporary-Bound Classicism

A glass front projects forth along two storeys of rounded arches. This delicate structural element animates the facade like an elongated bowfront. A pair of windows on each side is interrupted by narrow pilaster strips. The building, which locals have coined the “Iron House” thanks to its iron reinforcements, manifests the typical stylistic and material features of the Industrial Age. The glass stands for transparency and functionality, its slender cast- iron frame for modern functional building. However, the metal elements are decorated with antique-style ornamentation befitting to the times, as is clearly evident in the dentil along the building’s entablature. In the age of historicism, new features appear within the stylistic vestures of the old. Progressivity is enshrouded in a shell invoking cult of heritage, while an eagerness to attain progress is owed to a conservative commitment to tradition. This building, which today houses Camera Austria’s exhibition venue, was once a popular café in the years following its construction in the 1840s; later, it served as a warehouse until assuming its current function. Margherita Spiluttini has photographed the building in its current state twice from the Mur River end. These photographs clearly display the mighty bubble, today a well-frequented sightseeing attraction (and also tourist motif), and the viewing platform’s visitor accessible corridor above. Apparent in Spiluttini’s photos is how the two building elements designed by Cook and Fournier for the new Kunsthaus have reacted differently to the existing structure. It is not only the building’s constructive or amorphous gestalt that the artist approaches with a contrapuntal angle, but also the interpretation of the more dated elements. While the protruding corridor initiates reference to the glass front and the rhythm of the “Iron House” facade, the expansion pressure of the subjacent bubble seems to be marginalising the old building section. The historical iron-glass construction’s filigreed bowfront facade appears as if it were being crushed by the swollen, dimpled belly of the media facade.

Margherita Spiluttini is presently showing her photographs in Camera Austria’s exhibition space. We are hence dealing with a dual structure, for these pictures show the building in which they are being displayed. It would nevertheless be off base to speak of an “in-situ” work. Instead, we are presented with the “concurrence of old and new” (Spiluttini). Seen in various series are buildings with annexes, fixtures, and extensions. The Cartoonmuseum Basel (photo taken in 1996), for example, which was built by architects Herzog & de Meuron, shows an atrium positioned beneath a glass cube, along which water from the roof cornice trickles down to the ground taking the form of graphic drainages.

Spiluttini is indisputably the expert in contemporary architecture photography. The beginning of work of this photographer based in Vienna dates back to experiences she had during the first photo symposia at Camera Austria, in those days held at the Forum Stadtpark, a pavilion that was likewise constructed proximate to a historicised fountain. Spiluttini does commission work. She made a name for herself by documenting architectural work, such as that of Hermann Czech, Rüdiger Lainer, Herzog & de Meuron, Heinz Tesar, Zaha Hadid, or work by the teams of ARTEC, Eichinger oder Knechtl, henke und schreieck Architekten, lichtblau.wagner, Katzberger + Bily, or propeller z. Her hallmark is an extremely precise exposure technique. Depth of field, scrupulously precise framing, and cool perspectives make a lasting impression. Sustained appeal is fostered in the pictures through the presence of a quiet vacuity. A sense of bustle or liveliness never arises, and utilisation or serviceability only on rare occasions. At issue here is “pure building” (Spiluttini). And yet the artist emphasises personal aspects through her photographic methods. This is due especially to the plate cam- era technique, which portrays the image selection with reduced lighting, upside down, and inverted. “The black cloth covering both head and camera, which is meant to facilitate the view of the focusing screen, fosters a kind of intimacy between myself and the inverted detail of reality; this strongly intensifies concentration on the two-dimensional representational qualities of that which is in front of me.” The result of this concentrated viewing situation is a visually perceptible elegance. It is as if both dated and new buildings had become frozen in the stringently methodical gaze of the photo, thus achieving a state of mutual timelessness, something of a contemporary-bound classicism. For in the well-proportioned photographs, the temporal layers fuse together with absolute precision of resolution. Progress and continuity, the innovative and the conventional, functional building and landmark all become contemporaneous at the same time. Structures and spaces are captured in a state that is only made possible by an image, which cannot age since it cannot be lived in and used. For it is the photograph which records a particular present moment in time, unconcerned with its historical estimation. At the same time, this present moment is a situative documentation of the here and now, a view of the present as “found”. In this sense, Spiluttini proves to be a sensitive chronicler of the gears of time, and she in turn operates—as she herself notes—while keeping in mind a “radical acknowledgement of found material” (Spiluttini), in the spirit of Peter and Alison Smithson, who as architects argued against the renewal of old structures.

So as to intensify an awareness of photographed subjects and photographers as well as the architectural formation of space and the photographic act of viewing, Spiluttini has created a mirrored wall element in Camera Austria’s exhibition space. Viewers stepping into the rooms encounter a view of outside space reflected from the in- side like in a mediatic live broadcast. Self-reflection takes on a literal form. The assembly simultaneously references pictures like that of “Helvetia Patria” (2003), a photo of a building situated in a garden in the town of St. Gallen, also designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Interspersed along the facade are rectangular windows that each dis- play planar shifts. The surrounding buildings, including older structures, mirror each other like a colossal mosaic. A similar effect is achieved by the mirrored wall of the exhibition, for it, too, is positioned obliquely vis-à-vis the room’s axis; the outside world and the rhythm of the array of windows along the “Iron House” appear to be contorted in a skewed, surreal way. Repeated here—depending on the lighting situation—is either the outside scene, the row of houses opposite, or the interior view, the latter being the mirroring window- panes on the interior wall element. It follows that not only an exploration of history, the present, and the future is visibly installed in the exhibition space, but also the essential criteria of the photographic process: without light and darkness, there is no way to record images through photography. Without the inclined mirror, which reflexively tilts within the camera at the moment the picture is shot, there is no chance of creating a convincing photographic image.

Thomas D. Trummer

Exhibition Views

  • Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Iris Ranzinger

  • Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Iris Ranzinger

  • Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Iris Ranzinger

  • Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Iris Ranzinger

  • Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Iris Ranzinger

  • Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Iris Ranzinger

  • Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Iris Ranzinger

  • Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Iris Ranzinger

  • Margherita Spiluttini: und dann (reframing architecture)
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Iris Ranzinger

  • Margherita Spiluttini, Cartoon Museum Basel, CH, Architekten Herzog & de Meuron, 1996.

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Opening

  • Eröffnung / Opening, 20.4.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Eröffnung / Opening, 20.4.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Eröffnung / Opening, 20.4.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Eröffnung / Opening, 20.4.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Eröffnung / Opening, 20.4.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Eröffnung / Opening, 20.4.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Eröffnung / Opening, 20.4.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

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Exhibition talk

  • Ausstellungsgespräch / Exhibition talk, 5.5.2012
    Margherita Spiluttini, Thomas D. Trummer
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Ausstellungsgespräch / Exhibition talk, 5.5.2012
    Margherita Spiluttini
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Ausstellungsgespräch / Exhibition talk, 5.5.2012
    Thomas D. Trummer
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Ausstellungsgespräch / Exhibition talk, 5.5.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Ausstellungsgespräch / Exhibition talk, 5.5.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Ausstellungsgespräch / Exhibition talk, 5.5.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Ausstellungsgespräch / Exhibition talk, 5.5.2012
    Margherita Spiluttini, Thomas D. Trummer
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

  • Ausstellungsgespräch / Exhibition talk, 5.5.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Alessio Eberl

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Screening

  • Filmabend / Screening, 22.5.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Camera Austria

  • Aglaia Konrad, Still aus / from: Concrete & Samples, Wien, 2009. 16mm, color, no sound, 13'37".
    Courtesy: Auguste Orts, Brüssel

  • Filmabend / Screening, 22.5.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Camera Austria

  • Filmabend / Screening, 22.5.2012
    Camera Austria 2012
    Photo: Camera Austria

  • Aglaia Konrad, still aus / from: Concrete & Samples I Wotruba Wien, 2009. 16mm, color, no sound, 13'37".
    Courtesy: Auguste Orts, Brüssel

  • Aglaia Konrad, still aus / from: Concrete & Samples, Wotruba Wien, 2009. 16mm, color, no sound, 13'37"
    Courtesy: Auguste Orts, Brüssel

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