by Rosalyn D`MelloApr 07, 2023
German photographer Andreas Gursky’s Visual Spaces of Today, is an anthological exhibition covering over four decades of his monumental oeuvre. Gursky’s solo exhibition is co-curated by Urs Stahel and the photographer himself. It was inaugurated to celebrate the 10the anniversary of the art foundation Fondazione MAST, Bologna, along with 100 years of the G.D. company, which specialises in industrial solutions. The anthology features panoramic, large-scale photographs which show the anthropological footprint across the world.
“To this day, Andreas Gursky’s enormous visual power is such that entering into the universe of his images becomes each time an experience and a step towards awareness,” remarks Urs Stahel in the press note. The collection enables a grasp of the systems of reality, encompassing visually beguiling pieces that encapsulate the panoramic view of micro facets of production, consumption, and globalisation.
From the images, the viewers can interpret the human systems of connectivity as calculated, homogeneous, linear, and predictable, as opposed to naturally existing mechanisms of ecological networks. Images such as Salerno (1990) present the dichotomy of the natural environments against the built environment of port cities. In Les Mées (2016), one can comprehend the view of symmetrical solar panels callously edging from the curves of mountains. In Bahrain I (2005), the race tracks feel stiltedly imposed on the natural environment of the desert.
In the 1990s, with emerging digital technologies, Gursky began to adopt digital tools for his image-making process. This facilitated him to seize large-scale photographs and artificially manipulate the post-production visuals. Techniques he used created the effect of ‘double vision’ in his photographs which perceptually facilitates comprehension of more than a single moment at once. He achieved this by shooting chromogenic prints (or “c-prints”) with film with a large format camera thereby scanning the photos and applying digital manipulations. Some editing techniques involve blowing up the images to grand formats and emphatically utilising colour to visually narrate the subliminal tale of the present anthropological systems.
Globalisation as a phenomenon, despite its omnipresence, is intangible. To create a visual vocabulary from it, Gursky clicks images of computer networks, scenes at stock exchange centres and sites of trade, warehouses, and aesthetic interpretations of the mechanisms of human labour. With the use of the 'artificial infinite', a technique that leads to creating a double vision, his works act as a repository of ethereal reality. In our preconceived imagination, industrial zones have a sense of grey and a rigid aesthetic. However, Gursky’s creativity lets us interpret the subject with a romantic flair.
Gursky leaves us wondering if postmodern digital tools are the medium to capture the postmodern world; the hyper-realism of his photographs is undeniable. His works are an iconic depiction of our contemporary reality, and have elevated the status of art photographs as a collectible. The exhibition is complemented by a strong series of public programs and a catalogue that features a foreword by Fondazione MAST’s president, Isabella Seragnoli, and a critical essay by Urs Stahel.
'Visual Spaces of Today' is on view until January 7, 2024, at the Fondazione MAST in Bologna, Italy.