Concrete is Stranger Than Fiction
Concrete is Stranger than Fiction,
a Collaboration with Cristian Stefanescu.
This “in-process” exhibition reflects a dialogue on how we can participate in an ongoing informal authorship of existing physical spaces. These spaces are derived from a series of industrial ruins – stripped down spatial forms – found along a rail corridor in Romania. And hereby collected into a subjective archive of photographs, drawings and measurements.
Our concern lies with the question of an ongoing authorship which reflects their larger meaning: These forms were once buildings created to serve specific functions. They are products of the post-war industrialization process. Embodying modernist principles via concrete pre-fabrication processes typical of that period. Over time the buildings have undergone various changes due to shifts in industrial, political and social processes. Various re-uses, abandonment, theft, vandalism and weathering have reformulated their physical condition. Now vacant, useless and oftentimes hopeless, all that remains is their concrete presence.
Herein lies the focus of this exhibition: to develop ways of materializing the value of this concrete presence within a dynamic installation process organized around working stations. A subjective archive of photographs, drawing and measurements collected during a road trip last summer forms the base material of the exhibition. Throughout the exhibition we will work with methods of constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing the archive via models, collages and fabrications.
Framing the spatial forms again and again as a way to discuss and explore the value of their concrete presence. And help to reveal tensions between specific time (the burden of the post communist legacy) and the timelessness (the nostalgia attached to ruins). This constant shifting will mean various reformulations of the exhibition itself and its content.
The longer term goal is to translate this process into an immersive installation which can recall some of the tactility, materiality and atmosphere found in the spatial forms. In doing so, we look to inherit and continue the long line of authorship that has come to form their physical presence: architects, engineers, workers, buildings owners, thieves, vandals, the wind, rain, sun and snow. And tease out with precision the qualities hidden in these seemingly hopeless buildings – the strangeness of their concrete reality that seems to surpass any single conscious act of creation.
The exhibition is supported by Bergen Kommune and Norske Billedkunstnere.
First iteration: We set up working stations, which was also functional as an installation. It was the skeleton of this in process exhibition where we were present and working most days, we worked through our subjective archive (polaroids, photos, measurements etc). At this early stage we showed a lot of the original source imagery. When visitors entered the space, we usually had long conversation on the nature of the buildings, what kinds of associations they recalled, how the buildings can be read as they are (now).
Second iteration: We continued producing more models, collages etc. We re-organized the room continuously and tried to represent the content in various constellations.
Third iteration: We diminish the amount of original source imagery as we continued. The aim was to stimulate the imagination, and to get to a kind of abstraction which was concrete and poetic.
Fourth iteration: we started to play with the notion of shadow and time, which has been of interest since the research period. We ordered programmable led light, and explored lighting and movements -focusing on the idea of immersion, darkness as a mysterious veil which engages the body and imagination of the viewer even more.
Final iteration: we eliminated all original source references. We had seven models which we had arranged on one of the long sides of the room. This created a more traditional stage to viewer relationship. The led light-strip was running in front of the models, we installed it, so it would be suggestive of the movement of a train ride during sunset, creating a shadow play behind the hug-size cardboard models.