PhD - Fragments of a Past
10 paintings, acrylic on canvas, sizes vary between 30 x 30 cm and 30 x 45 cm.
A representation of a detail from an industrial plant as captured by a photograph is depicted on a white background in the first painting from this series. The factory is obviously working as we can see smoke coming out of the chimneys: yet we cannot notice any people in the painting. The building starts to look self-sufficient. The colours suggest that the photographic source was produced a long time ago. Indeed, the painting’s development began with looking at an old black and white photograph - from the Communist era. Date and author are unknown. It appears to be one of the seemingly documentary-style photographs taken during Communism to ‘display facts’. But not quite. David Hockney says that “the best use for photography …is photographing other pictures. It is the only time it can be true to its medium, in the sense that it's real” (1981, p. 8). So how ‘true’ and ‘real’ is the old photograph? According to the postulates of the Communist ideology, economics is the base of any society; consequently the represented industrial building could be an architectural embodiment of ideological success. Despite this, the colours and lack of people in the photograph the building resembles a monument more than a factory. It does not tell a story about a successful industry irrespective of the photographer’s intentions. The rigid composition, flat sky and detachment of the architectural structure reference Bernd and Hilla Becher’s typologies. The typologies – grids of black and white photographs of industrial buildings in East Germany - were produced in a systematic approach that included the neutral lightning of an overcast day and repeated compositional decisions. The latter encompassed a rigorous frontality of the buildings and a symmetrical composition, both evoking the simplicity of diagrams and the timelessness of monuments.