Corner Piece

    Saturday, June 16, 2001 to Saturday, August 4, 2001

    • Saturday, June 16, 2001
    The experience of architecture is a fundamental part of our daily lives. As we approach a building or pass in front of its façade, our perspective constantly shifts, and the converging lines of the walls change as the relationship between our size, our surroundings and the dimension of the structure change. This very different information combines in us to form a rather complex `picture' of a building. For the most part, no single point of view is more correct than any other, no perspective is entitled to greater validity. This explains why a photograph of a building often seems a little inadequate, because the photographer must choose a single point of view, must give precedence to a single perspective, bringing subjectivity into play, whereby each picture of a building also becomes his or her interpretation. Artists such as Bernd and Hilla Becher, or their successors Thomas Struth and Andreas Gursky, have tried to lessen the subjectivity of architectural photography by placing their cameras directly in front of the architectural object, thereby reducing the effect of perspective or at least forcing it into an apparent symmetry. Further mediation of this subjectivity results from the fact that buildings are embedded in their surroundings, which gives us a kind of freedom to move around them in our imagination. Renate Buser, however, seems to pursue in her work the exact opposite goal. For her current project on the façade of Gallery 101, the artist has photographed a typical Berlin inner courtyard. In the act of photographing she has already chosen a perspective with clearly converging lines, reminding me a little of the central perspective of the early Renaissance. Subsequently, she processes the negatives and removes the façade from its particular context before enlarging the image. The inner courtyard is now in a sense inverted, installed in a size as large as 6 x 3 and 3 x 3 meters onto the front of the gallery building, so that the corner of one building runs exactly in the bend of the other's wall. The architecture of the Berlin inner courtyard is on the one hand reinterpreted as Canadian façade-architecture; at the same time, a space is optically cut into the cube and the courtyard seems almost to break into the building. The effect is astonishing. If we move past the corner of the building, our perspective of the building shifts as though we were walking diagonally across the Berlin courtyard but inversely, because the more we move in the direction of one side, the more clearly the lines of that side recede. At the same time, the lines of the side that should appear to be receding gradually straighten up. This has only a little to do with the most objective documentation of architecture. The way the buildings themselves are put into motion here recalls far more the trompe-l'oeil effect, or painted architecture. And it is not just the building that is put into motion, but also the observer: this art makes us flaneurs. Samuel Herzog (Basel, Switzerland)