14 Jan – 19 Feb 2011
14 January – 19 February 2011
Prospekter generates the perspectival draw through landscape pictures and architectural structures, but “the prospekt” also points towards the constructed and the coulisse, which can be found in both nature, architecture and photography – such as the grand designs of prospekts and avenues, which both make the city a geometrically ordered universe, but also an imaginary architectural machine bordering on the limit of the principal of a coulisse. Overall Jesper Rasmussen’s “prospekts” deal with how we perceive reality through our entirely branched and muddied co-cultural network of passed on codes, conceptions and structures – and simultaneously the works challenge this experience.
In conjunction with the previous photographic series Off Location and Heimlich Jesper Rasmussen has created a range of new photographical works, which together with monstrous, architectural interventions in the gallery space, make up the exhibition Prospekter. Jesper Rasmussen (b.1959) primarily works with photography and the installation as a spatial, sculptural and architectural intervention. Jesper Rasmussen’s body of work is saturated with his engagement of how the spatial structures and the physical surroundings effect on the subject and our understanding of reality, but in his latest works, exhibited at Prospekter, the purely architectural spaces have been meshed with large panoramic photographs of nature and that which places itself in the strange border country between nature and architecture. The incorporation of nature brings into play a new range of thematics and problematics – both in relation to the polarity of culture/nature, landscape/architecture, real/constructed, but also in relation to the photographical medium itself and its traditional conception as an unmediated projection of reality. Rasmussen’s photos are digitally manipulated and even though the landscape photos at first glance appear as exact reproductions of reality, they evoke at closer inspection a consciousness of nature as constructed and as a culturally produced imagination. The composition of nature-photography-construction is important, as it points out that even the most innocent photographical realism displays the world as a choreographed performance.
The three motifs of the exhibition – architecture, nature and the in between, which can be characterized as a sort of terrain vague – are all manipulated and pose the overriding question of What is nature and what is culture?, which is projected unto the spectator, who becomes forced to revaluate and reflect upon the culturally coded and passed on preconceptions, which make up our conception of our world. At the same time, because of the artist’s manipulating actions, the photographs of both architecture and nature seem strangely twisted and slightly disturbing. The photos are precisely off location: we can easily recognize their outset in modern architecture and in the Danish forest scenery, but we become unsettled by their crookedness, which transgress the motives from their original setting. The depictions of nature have an almost surreal and supernatural effect on us, which at once draw us in and push us away. The picture detains information, and the entire validity of the photograph as a document of reality, as well as the sanctity of nature, is questioned. In the terrain vague photographs – a bleak motorway scenery and a deserted parking lot near a gloomy shopping centre – occupy a weird grey area between countryside and cityscape. Through Jesper Rasmussen’s processing the buildings become detached, dysfunctional boxes, which place themselves in between architecture and sculpture; between something functional and no man’s land. We recognize the places as part of our everyday surroundings, but because of their devoidence of life, a sliver of something unsettling creeps in under our skin. This same layer of something uncomfortably is evident in the photographs of the otherwise spotless, white and cool modern buildings. Here Jesper Rasmussen has cleaned up the architecture exposing only the bare essence of the structures, which now likens to something akin to a minimalist sculpture, devoid of the potential residents disturbing visual contaminants, such as curtains, pot plants, drying racks and human mess. As Donald Judd-like elements or modernist pure shapes, the architectural photographs connect with the installation works of the exhibition – a monstrous stairway build up in the gallery space, together with a strange peepshow-box-like construction, which through its scale places itself somewhere in between a habitable space and a sculptural object. The stairway construction occupies the entire middle space in the gallery as a big and impossible colossus. The construction is, as the photographs, a comment on our habitual perception of architectural structures as functional, constant and immutable concepts, since the stairway in a Kafkaesque manner leads nowhere, but dysfunctionally finds its terminal point at the ceiling of the gallery space. The stairway is a structure, which at integrates the spectator’s body and at the same time brings the staged and coulisse-like structures, which rule our lives and our everyday dealings, to our attention. With “the peepshow box” Rasmussen draws points back to his previous exhibition in the gallery Out of Space, 2008, where the work Trailerarkitekton integrated a Danish garden trailer with a modified model of the Russian constructivist Kasimir Malevich’s architecton Alpha from 1923. The peepshow box is also based on one of Malevich’s famous architectons, Gota, from 1923, but here represented as a negative shape with the architectons gemmiparous cubes, overhangs and notches on the inside. As in the panoptical pinhole-box the world outside is excluded allowing a glimpse into the secluded and formalistic universe of the architecton, which reminds us of the unreal mood of the architectural photographs, and also points back to the origin of the photograph, where the pinhole camera produced a limited, and somewhat unreal, perspective of the world.