Gregor Sailer’s surreal photographs seize remote architecture

Gregor Sailer’s surreal images: architecture at the margins of civilisation

In a new exhibition, ‘Unseen Places’ at Kunst Haus Wien, Gregor Sailer appears to be like again at 20 yrs of functioning in inaccessible landscapes, sealed-off territories and restricted navy regions

The spots Gregor Sailer visits in his prolonged-expression assignments are over and above notion, geographically and figuratively. They are web sites exactly where raw elements are extracted, political buffer zones, humanless landscapes, ‘backdrop’ metropolitan areas, and areas of camouflage and deception.

His photographic journeys are preceded by meticulous analysis and usually many years of preparing to expose the dynamics that guide to the existence of these locations. Sailer presents them in a lowered, tranquil and deserted visible language.

Titled ’Unseen Places’, the thematic exhibition in the Kunst Haus Wien orchestrates parts of 6 of Sailer’s photographic collection across two floors. The functions span from his beginnings of shooting underground areas in German metropolitan areas (Subraum) to his newest undertaking, The Polar Silk Road, which culminated in an impressively illustrated e book, like a collector’s version, posted by Kehrer Verlag. 

University Dortmund, 2005, from the series Subraum © Johannes Naumann, Gregor Sailer, Stefan Tuschy, picture legal rights Vienna 2022

Curated by Verena Kaspar-Eisert, the exhibition opens with photographs from The Potemkin Villages that capture the misleading phenomena of settlements made of nothing at all more than cheerfully painted façades and the Russian myth that underpins them. With pictures of backdrop towns employed for military shut beat schooling and motor vehicle screening in the Usa and Europe, as perfectly as the in depth replicas of European cities in China, Sailer’s images give the viewer entry to the environment of fakes, questioning absurd excesses of present-day culture. 

‘Three photographs printed oversized on tarpaulins exhibit the stress concerning truth and deception even extra significantly,’ points out Kaspar-Eisert. While Sailer’s perform usually requires him to distant, inhospitable areas of the environment, he doesn’t shy absent from unravelling the oppressive truths at his doorstep. This is potent in The Box, which illuminates a dark chapter in Schwaz, Tyrol, where the photographer was born in 1980. During the 2nd Earth War, compelled labourers labored in historic underground mine tunnels, which became a manufacturing unit for making plane. To mild these tunnels, and their intricate history, Sailer brought his products 2,000m underground.

Gregor Sailer, Industrial Web site, Ras Laffan, Qatar, 2010, from the series Shut Cities© Gregor Sailer, graphic legal rights: Vienna 2022

Even though the series Shut Cities highlights artificially made urban zones hermetically sealed off from the outside the house environment, The Polar Silk Street specials with the economic exploitation of the Arctic locations. Enduring snow storms and minus 50°C temperatures for over four a long time, Sailer documented investigate stations and oil platforms, but also the silent arms race in the neighbouring countries, generating the world wide power battle for the Arctic economic area tangible. 

Sailer describes his curiosity in capturing the structural transformation of the landscape and the complicated political, military and economic implications of architecture: ‘I’m substantially more fascinated in transporting considerable content via architectural objects than I am in exhibiting men and women,’ 

Subway Bochum, 2005, from the collection Subraum © Johannes Naumann, Gregor Sailer, Stefan Tuschy, image rights Vienna 2022

Sailer’s father worked as an architect, offering him formative accessibility and sensitisation to architecture, room, spatial outcomes, and the context of mild and landscape from an early age, and now form the traits of his do the job: diffuse light illuminating spaces and the voids of shadows. This is how the architecture arrives into its personal, he claims. Offering the objects space and seldom having caught in the detail peaceful, poetic transcendence reigns in Sailer’s generally surreal photographs. Making use of only just one shot per matter, he’s a perfectionist in taking illustrations or photos with his analogue, substantial-structure digital camera. ‘It’s quite sluggish and static, and I have to acknowledge the simple stipulations for the environment, the geography and the elements,’ Sailer suggests of his procedure.

Alluding to the austere eeriness in his images, curator Kaspar-Eisert reviews: ‘Gregor Sailer is not an artist who will make it easy for his audience. He worries since his work is so concentrated and specific… Sailer does not permit you to appear the other way.’ §

Gregor Sailer, military station, Norway, 2020, from the sequence The Polar Silk Highway © Gregor Sailer, image rights: Vienna 2022

Portrait of Sailer at operate in Siberia, © Philipp Sailer

Maria Lewis

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