A new exhibition at the Ludwig Forum in Aachen explores "in-between" spaces where the distinction between fact and fiction has been blurred. German photographer Tobias Zielony's images highlight the disconnect between past utopian visions for social housing and the bleak outlook for residents. Pictured is part of the "Sails of Scampia" estate in Naples, now a major center for drug-trafficking.
Zielony's series "Quartiers Nord" (2003) captures life for Algerian and north-western African migrants in the social housing estates near Marseille. Time and time again, the contradiction between architectural and social structures comes to the fore, as do the similarities in fashion, music and lifestyle between different youth cultures in various parts of the world.
Imagine you're walking down the street and the flower pots suddenly explode. German artist Annette Wehrmann's work "Blumensprengungen" or "Flower Demolitions," draws attention to the ways in which we engage with public space, touching on the fear many people have of a terrorist attack. Each explosion triggered a camera shot, producing random, abstract and decidedly deadpan images.
Armin Linke explores the world, looking to capture traces of globalization in photographs and films. His sober images of everyday living spaces in North Korea detail the sleek, looming skyline created by the communist dictatorship, far removed from the needs of the people. In "Thongil Street, Pyongyang, North Korea" (2005), pictured, people are reduced to the size of ants in the cityscape.
Dutch artist Lidwien van de Ven is well-known for her meditative photographs of buildings which have been witness to major historical events. In her large-format images of protests and court cases, she bypasses the conventions of standard press images, opting instead to make quiet observations from the margins, as in "Paris, 26.12.2006 (Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité)."
German photographer Wilhelm Schürmann's images have been described as an "archaeology of the everyday." His photographs cast an unforgiving eye on failed attempts to improve or expand buildings, at times lapsing into the absurd. With a nod to the work of photographer duo Bernd and Hilla Becher, Schürmann's distanced compositions cast existence into an aesthetic form.
Blurring the line between reality and fiction, Swiss artist Maja Weyermann combines photographic documents and computer-generated images to create improbable perspectives and spatial experiences. In her "Chandigahr Series," Weyermann re-created 3D simulations of plans for the Indian city designed by architect Le Corbusier during the 1950s, combined with photographs and layering time and space.
French artist Kader Attia's series "Rochers Carres" ("Square Rocks") depicts young men looking out to sea near Bab el Oued in Algeria. Kader described it as "a place where young people go to hangout, smoke, fish, and sometimes prostitute themselves." The faces of the protagonists can't be seen, leaving the viewer to question what the men are thinking as they look out across the Mediterranean.
In 2007, Austrian artist Aglaia Konrad photographed former social housing projects on the outskirts of Cairo for her series "Desert Cities." Focused on architectural as opposed to social structures, Konrad's images transform them into strange sculptures sprouting from the earth. "The City That Doesn't Exist: Images of Global Spaces" runs at the Ludwig Forum in Aachen through February 17, 2013.
A new exhibition at the Ludwig Forum in Aachen takes visitors to cities which don't exist, raising questions about their own existence.