login    password    artist  buyer  gallery  
Not a member? Register
Indepth Arts News:

2000-01-15 until 2000-06-05
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
North Adams, MA, USA United States of America

On January 15, 2000, an exhibition of international contemporary photography will open at MASS MoCA. The exhibition, SUPERMODEL, will be on view through June 5, 2000. SUPERMODEL is an exhibition full of surprises, of subtle smoke-and-mirrors tricks. These photographers cunningly tweak established conventions of documentary architectural photography to present paper or computer models, piles of office supplies, or bizarre architectural re-creations as though they were actual brick and mortar buildings photographed with the utmost sincerity. Every image hovers between two realities: the viewer first sees a simple, even mundane photograph of a building or room, but this reality then dissolves into something quite different (a film set, a desk toy, a Las Vegas version of a famous place).

The artists in SUPERMODEL rely on the tradition of architectural photography advanced by such artists as Eugène Atget, August Sander, Bernd and Hilla Becher and Thomas Struth. They also draw from photography's surrealist and fictional forms, found in works by artists ranging from Man Ray to Cindy Sherman, David Levinson, and Yasumasa Morimura. Architectural photography's close association with documentary, archival, and trade photography make it a perfect framework for presenting fakery and fictions to the unwitting viewer.

SUPERMODEL includes works by Miriam Bäckström, Oliver Boberg, James Casebere, Miles Coolidge, Thomas Demand, Martin Dörbaum, Heidi Specker, Alexander Timtschenko, and Bernard Voïta. Social, historical, and psychological conditions manifest themselves differently in each artist's work.

New York artist James Casebere is the common predecessor to the other artists in the exhibition. He began photographing tabletop models in the late 1970s. His almost surrealist work, which over the years has included investigations of public spaces such as tenements, prisons and municipal tunnels, is represented in SUPERMODEL by Library (1979) on loan from the Williams College Museum of Art.

Swedish photographer Miriam Bäckström's Set Constructions, included in the 1999 Venice Biennale, explore the fictions of space in film and television. The sets she photographs were created for cinematic use and made to be filmed. By including the unfinished edges, structural supports and lighting apparatus that were not meant to be seen, Bäckström's photographs show the way such visual tricks are constructed.

Oliver Boberg's photographs of models he constructs focus on the nearly invisible spaces and structures of everyday experience. His fictional spaces, composites of banal architectural fragments in his home suburb of Nuremburg, Germany, force attention back to those spaces that are usually in the periphery of our perception.

Other artists represented in the exhibition explore simulated structures that exist next to real architecture. German photographer Alexander Timtschenko's photographs of Las Vegas focus on the representation of architectural monuments and styles that transform one city into many. Similarly, Miles Coolidge's Safetyville captures the odd relationship between space (the physical expanse in which all things exist) and place (particular, defined points occupied by beings, objects or phenomena). Safetyville is a town built at 1/3 scale in California's central valley to teach children traffic safety.

Berlin artist Thomas Demand's photographs full-scale reconstructions of culturally significant places, such as Hitler's bunker and Jackson Pollock's barn, alongside more everyday spaces like office buildings and public parks. Demand makes all of his models out of paper, like the newspaper clippings and media images that he often uses as source material. Swiss artist Bernard Voïta takes inspiration from the everyday and turns it into monumental architecture. His photographs show arrangements of household and studio objects that only appear to be structures because of the point-of-view he photographs them from. Voïta's photographs are endless re-combinations of the elements and everyday objects that form the structure of his daily life -- staplers and tape dispensers become towering architectural elements.

German artist Martin Dörbaum is the only artist in SUPERMODEL producing entirely computer-generated images. Views of the architectural models rendered in his computer are exposed directly on the photographic paper. In Bar (1999), Dörbaum exposes the computer-generated model onto Polaroid film.

Heidi Specker takes a very historical view to the photography of architecture and model-making. In House of the Photographer (1999) she combines views of her Berlin apartment with photographs taken of models in the Bauhaus archives and key architectural monuments copied from art history books.

This exhibition was organized by Elizabeth Mangini, a curatorial intern at MASS MoCA and graduate student at the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art at the Clark Art Institute. She has recently published an article on this subject in the Austrian magazine Eikon. SUPERMODEL is the fifth in a series of exhibitions sponsored by the Clark Art Institute in support of the Graduate Program.

Related Links:


Discover over 150,000 works of contemporary art. Search by medium, subject matter, price and theme... research over 200,000 works by over 22,000 masters in the indepth art history section. Browse through new Art Blogs. Use our advanced artwork search interface.

Call for Artists, Premiere Portfolio sign-up for your Free Portfolio or create an Artist Portfolio today and sell your art at the marketplace for contemporary Art! Start a Gallery Site to exclusively showcase your gallery. Keep track of contemporary art with your free MYabsolutearts account.


Copyright 1995-2013. World Wide Arts Resources Corporation. All rights reserved