Nusser & Baumgart

Haubitz + Zoche

23 Oct - 25 Nov 2010

23.10.2010 until 25.11.2010

Sabine Haubitz (born 1959) and Stefanie Zoche (born 1965) have been working together since 1998. Under the name Haubitz+Zoche the artists have established themselves with their photographic and installative work in the international art scene; they recently exhibited in the group show „Dreamlands“ in the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, where they were represented with their series Tropical Island. These photographs document the construction of a tropical recreation park in Brandenburg, Germany, and turn the viewer’s attention to the constructed design of a dream landscape: a holiday idyll, to which everybody can escape to in oder to satisfy a yearning for the exotic in the artificially created tropics, even if only for a short time.

The interest in the creation and effect of illusions or bogus realities characterizes the oeuvre of Haubitz+Zoche. In the exhibition Facelift at Nusser & Baumgart the artists create a tension between reality and fiction as subject of discussion – in this connection buildings and architectural elements of urban areas are the central theme. In the photographic series Facelift, which the artists began in 2006, Haubitz+Zoche focus on large-size tarpaulin banners which are attached to building facades, or covered with. The trend of simulating facades, already lasting for several years now, by covering new buildings or buildings under construction with printed tarpaulins, can be denoted as a novel, urban phenomenon. The tarpaulins become traditional advertising posters or billboards and leave a mark on the appearance of today’s cityscapes. For these gigantic canvases mainly advertisement motifs, preferably giant beauties, that might make us feel puny, or true to scale reproductions of the renewed or the developing facades are chosen. Buildings and facades are photographed (or simulated by a computer programme) and after a scale-up and image processing printed on the tarpaulin banners.

As some of these apparent architectures are making it already difficult to differ between the copy and the palpable architecture in urban surroundings the illusory effect is even heightened in the photographs by Haubitz+Zoche. Photographing a photograph erases clues that could reveal the masquerade of the building. Such a duplication can also unmask the process of illusion. For example when reflections in the windows on the tarpaulins and the color of the sky do not match the windows and colors on the photo taken by Haubitz+Zoche. At the same time the artists render how such a covering is put over the scaffolding while the simulated, prospective architecture is barely existent. The Facelift-Series demonstrates, that illusions are an integral part of our reality.

The artistic concept facilitates a complex play with different realities and their perception. Hereby crucial, theoretical questions are called up concerning the representative nature of art. In this context Jean Baudrillard’s theory of simulation which had a profound impact on our era is relevant as well as media reflexive questions that are raised in the context of photography. The photographs of Haubitz+Zoche point up the ambiguity which is inherent in the photographic medium: it is scenic and illusory but at the same time it is document and true-to-life display method.

The examinationof urban space and awareness raising for the related mechanisms is another matter of particular concern of the two artists. They are not only interested in architectural composition of public space but also in the scenic strategies which allow urban space to become a kind of stage. Stephan Berg suggested that Haubitz+Zoche conceive „the city as a theatrical construction“ and space and architecture „not as a given factor but rather as a perceptive-dependant construction“.

This notion is implemented in the way the upcoming exhibition is presented in Nusser & Baumgart’s gallery space. Haubitz+Zoche place large photographic wallpapers on several walls: architectural photography corresponds with the framed Facelift-images. The work does not only refer to the motifs, they rather point up the dependance of spacial perception on social behaviour and a generally accepted conception of space.

The reversion of inside and outside, as it is carried out in Haubitz+Zoche’s exhibition where urban landscape enters a gallery space, is a method of contemporary artists in order to demonstrate the complexity and composition of space. Along comes an irritating effect which is evoked by the negation of the conventional space-and-time-continuum.

This effect is also harnessed by the artists in terms of the displayed wall objects. The chosen motifs reflect the topos of the window as a membrane between inside and outside, as a interface between private and public space. With their exhibits and their presentation Haubitz+Zoche reveal that windows as well as facades and gallery walls might be static boundaries of space at first site but can appear as osmotic membranes that allow a permeating of both spheres and other „levels“ of reality after taking a closer look.

Hereby they actually raise a perpetual and contemporary question of existance: how do we experience space today?

Text: Anne Vieth

Tags: Stephan Berg, Haubitz + Zoche