Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Shut Down in Vienna

Last night I had dinner with a friend who is not into urban exploration. She had recently traveled to Austria and found herself at the wrong museum. (She meant to take herself and her companion to another museum.) Her mistake was furtuitous, and the travellers spent over an hour in photographer Christoph Lingg's exhibition Shut Down at the Leopold Museum.

Exhibition shots of Shut Down: Industrial Ruins in Eastern Europe and the Far East can be found here. Shut Down looks like a straightforward photo exhibition, but the last installation shot is a bit confusing out of context. Are those flyers from the sites when they were operable? Is Mr. Lingg's message political? Looking at his website, it seems that his work combines portraiture and photojournalism, so it seems likely that there is a message and that this work is not just an aesthetic study.

I love the quote from Romanian poet Mircea Cărtărescu at the end of Susanne Schaeber's exhibition essay :

My occupation: ruins builder. My mission: ruins architect. My sin: ruins voyeur. Don’t ask me about forgotten places. Gather around me, open my skull and look at my brain: before your very eyes it will crumble like plaster. And its dust will be mixed indistinguishably with the dust of the ruins among which I have lived my entire life, as a lover of a harem of ruins.

My friend apologized for being unable to carry two copies (hers and what would have been mine) of the exhibition publication back to the States; she said it was too heavy. I thought she meant that the book was thick and not that rusty metal plates served as the book's cover!

Photo above by Christoph Lingg and included in Lingg's Shut Down exhibition at the Leopold Museum.

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