FRIEDERIKE VON RAUCH | IN SECRET
Friederike von Rauch, SPSG 1, 2011, Pigmentprint on Fine Art Paper, 100 x 100 cm, Courtesy the artist and FELDBUSCWIESNER Gallery
Following her training as a silversmith, Friederike von Rauch studied Industrial Design at the Universität der Künste, Berlin and worked as a location scout for international film productions. In 2010, her work was nominated for the Gabriele Münter Prize. It has been shown in several solo exhibitions at venues including the Forum für Fotografie, Cologne (2013), La Galerie Particulière, Paris (2013), the Hafnarborg Museum, Iceland (2010), Kabinet van Cultuur, Brussels (2008), and the Vlaams-Nederlands Huis deBuren, Brussels (2007). Her work was also presented in group shows at MARTa Herford (2012), the Heidelberger Kunstverein (2011) and the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin (2010). The artist lives and works in Berlin.
Where does your fascination for spaces come from? Especially hidden rooms that are not accessible to everyone?
My fascination with architecture is probably inherent. Ever since I can remember, my ears have pricked up when people start to talk about special places, and I always get excited when I discover a hidden door – whatever lies beyond cannot possibly be boring.
Of course, a public and well-known place can also generate this sort of fascination if the particular architecture or history of the place creates a special atmosphere. I think this one moment of enchantment is what it takes to pique my curiosity.
Which spaces feature in the exhibited works?
The majority of these images were taken in museums: places that preserve, reflect and exhibit Europe’s cultural history, such as art galleries, sculpture depots, restoration studios, archives and other similar spaces – The Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, BOZAR in Brussels, the Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden and the New Palace in Potsdam all feature, as well as the Accademia di Belle Arti and Palazzo Grimani in Venice. At a workshop in Venice I had the opportunity to photograph the restoration of a Titian painting.
These collections bring together works from diverse origins in one small space – a concentration of energy that becomes physically palpable. Almost like a battery that can drain its energy and sometimes cause an intoxicating rush.
Then there are images from churches of the 50s and 60s – a modernity, which for me also preserves the character of a time. This architecture is occasionally perceived as stark, brutalist and harsh, but on the other hand displays a particularly pure and concentrated attitude in the return to the fundamental.
According to Foucault, museums are heterotopic spaces of constantly accumulated time. With this in mind, one could see a picture as a means of pausing a fleeting moment. What significance does time have in your work?
As I am not a photojournalist, theoretically I have all the time in the world to take a picture. Time is available to me up until the moment I press the shutter release.
What I have to decide is whether I want to dedicate myself to many things or only a few. If I am not able to repeatedly make that decision, I become overwhelmed by the frenzy of activity, but not by time. Photography leads me to acute observations, to a change in direction and a deceleration. Calm and acquiescence with the situation are also important. If all of these factors are temporal markers then yes, time plays an important role in my work.
Your pieces often depict the works of Old Masters alone during the process of restoration, as if you have caught art history backstage putting on its make-up. What is it that you find so fascinating about these moments?
During its restoration, the painting is temporarily alone – free from its juxtaposition with other pictures. Here, it can be viewed differently. In the long run, the staged exposition of the painting is too perfect. This gives me the urge to shift the focus in a different direction: this can, for instance, be a state of improvisation or transience. This is exactly what happens during a restoration: one picture peers out from behind the others; wrapped up sculptures lie around, as if they need to have a rest following the stressful exhibition. Suddenly, character traits of the pieces of art emerge that one would not have thought possible before. Such moments are always intriguing.
Roland Barthes called the one captivating and special detail of a photograph the punctum. It is individual to every observer. How do find that detail that interests you?
It is more likely to find me (laughs).
But initially I have to free myself from all stimulatory sensations, which can take a while. When I do see it, I recognise it straight away, and then its meaning becomes clear to me – all the more so if it has been right before my eyes the whole time. For example: I find something that seems interesting at first, but that nevertheless is not worth photographing. Then, something changes unexpectedly – the light, perhaps – and it just might happen that suddenly I am mesmerised by the whole setting.
In an interview you once said, with regards to the use of light in your work, ''I try to avoid the sun. ''
Yes, that is an example of the gradual change that has occurred in my work. For a long time I only took photos in the typical silvery-grey, virtually shadow-free light of the overcast (Berlin) sky. But over time my choice of light has become more diverse, perhaps more refined, and therefore this sentence now only applies in certain circumstances.
There are rarely any people present in your pictures. However, you do not lock the doors of the rooms in which you work; you consciously leave them open.
The fact there are hardly any people in the photographs is less to do with locked doors and more to do with my devotion to these places and my wish to dedicate my full attention to the space. Practically, I prefer to work alone and in complete silence – so, when possible, outside of public opening hours. However, this is only so that I am not interrupted. I would not like it if somebody locked the doors behind me.
You do not see the rooms as a stage or a background in front of which action takes place. Instead, you want to remain a bystander and thus become part of the room.
Yes, that captures the closeness and affinity I feel quite well – if I can become part of my observations as an observer. Setting a space in scene is an opposing objective. That is why I never intervene on site. If I don’t like it, I don’t take a picture. My view and my photography are my only interventions, if you will.
Which location have you always wanted to photograph, but have never had access to?
There are still quite a few, after all the actual taking of the photograph only occurs after a lengthy and tedious process of gaining permission. People shouldn’t imagine that it I simply walk into a museum and take a few photos. For it to even happen at all, you need a certain amount of patience. So, really, everything is still possible!
Gallery FELDBUSCHWIESNER has been successfully representing young contemporary artists since 2005. The gallery defines itself as a mediator for singular positions and artists who endeavour to follow very individual practices.
We put priority on cooperation and discourse with our artists and collectors, without committing ourselves to any specific artistic practice, and therefore, our exhibitions do not follow predefined thematic guidelines. At least once a year we invite a guest curator and with it open our doors to artists from all over the world.
Since the gallery moved to its current location in 2007, photo- and video art has
become a vital part of our program. In our dedicated video space works of emerging video artists and those who already made their appearance on international platforms are shown throughout the year.
The gallery successfully participated at international art fairs such as ART FORUM, Berlin; ARTEFIERA Bologna; KIAF, Seoul: VIENNAFAIR; ARTE SP, Sao Paolo; ARCO Madrid and PARIS PHOTO, to name a few.
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