architectural photography

from 06.06.1997 to 28.06.1997

Margherita Spiluttini

The Absence of Motion

"I have discovered that all the woes of this world stem from the single fact that people cannot stay put in their rooms." - Blaise Pascal

Architectural photography fixes static relationships and at first sight seems to exclude the element of motion. Motion is not depicted but due to the specific technical possibilities of the medium it may be transformed into a metaphor by symbolically capturing the motion of the object through blurring or dramatizing the appearance of a building by means of a dynamic pictorial composition. Serial and conceptual photography both operate with the temporal aspect by either taking a number of individual pictures along a temporal axis, thus showing various forms of change, or else by introducing a cinematographic element into photography by presenting different viewpoints.

Margherita Spiluttini deals with the phenomenon of motion in yet another way by addressing certain aspects of this dynamic principle. Although it is an element in all photography, Spiluttini's pictures particularly document the absence of motion. They do not show this directly but present us with locations into which motion has entered or which make motion possible. Her photographs of buildings and landscapes visualize stories and processes on a symbolic level. Her conceptual concern is not the staging and dramaturgical setting of motion, but instead the camery serves as her instrument to address those phenomena and consequences that are caused by the need for motion and the will to shape one's own environment.
Spiluttini's photographs may be subdivided into three groups in terms of their content. The first group documents the reshaping of nature by man, making clear how these interventions are subject to the principle of mobility. Such measures, and that can hardly be overlooked, have led to the creation of fascinating buildings and entirely new scenic situations not devoid of a certain aesthetics. The inherent recklessness and tendency towards monumentality impress us but they also make us feel ambivalent on the basis of our present-day knowledge. Another group of Spiluttini's photographs deals with spaces devoted to sports without, however, actually showing the physical activity. These are spaces awaiting their utilization and manifesting traces of past and future motion. They exude a certain calm even though they are devoted to its opposite. The third group comprises photographs of quarries and gravel pits that may be read as testimonies of a revaluation of nature as civilization. Matter is quarried, moved and processed and hence the landscape is altered so that buildings can be erected elsewhere. As part of this process negative shapes are created in nature which are a virtual representation of aspects of man's cultural history.
Spillutini's photographs have been created either as commissioned works or out of a mere fascination with the subject matter and without any conceptual claim. It was only in retrospect and in the context of arranging an exhibition that a previously relatively unconsciously controlled activity crystallized into a concept and a categorization of the photographs. The selection of the pictures as well as the history of the origin of the photographs are determined by Spiluttini's emotional approach to the theme: on the one hand her relationship to sports which is ambivalent and on the other hand the fact that the aspect of motion and travelling is of particular importance in her profession. In Spiluttini's travels to the buildings she wants to photograph the car becomes a kind of dwelling for her in which she moves protectedly through often unfamiliar territory. The simultaneous presence of the surrounding landscape and the distance to it create that mental space in which a special awareness of life arises that fluctuates between tension and relaxation, curiosity and fear, liberation from everyday life and helplessness vis-a-vis other conditions. Embedded in this subjectively experienced tension, Spiluttini discovers buildings and spatial situations that fascinate her and eventually motivate her to stop and take photographs. The camera becomes an instrument for bridging distances, unconsciously or purposefully it is employed to transcend one's own boundaries and allow the approach to the disquietingly unfamiliar. In this sense Margherita Spiluttini's photographs are snapshots of a motion whose stories and deeper meanings lie beyond the picture plane.

Arno Ritter