As part of an artistic project for the Fundació Mies van der Rohe in collaboration with Goethe-Institute Barcelona, Michael Wesely with a special self-made camera and ultra-long exposure will reveal the passage of time and the ever-changing light trace that take place here at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion.
Michael Wesely (born 1963 in Munich) is a German art photographer who is best known for his photos of cities and buildings taken with a special ultra-long exposure technique. The artist is going to install a camera in the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion that will begin the process of taking one of these photographs with 365-day exposure time.
The resulting image will be part of a series of works related to the Centenary of the Bauhaus.
Michael Wesely and Mies van der Rohe
2012 – 2019
Michael Wesely is a keeper and a capturer of time. His analogue photography does not aim for the fleeting instant or the dramatisation of the moment but its opposite, for the documentation of continuance layered and condensed into a single image, a collection of moments in motion. Wesely, using extremely long exposure times, stretches the photographic process to the limits of possibility and in so doing, gives us the opportunity of experiencing temporality and transformation in a uniquely compelling way.
Bauhaus is soon one hundred years old and one hundred years is a long time. Bauhaus, the institution, did not survive the time of its emergence, but the long years since with their spectacular history, have been crucial to the survival of its influence to the present, and have intensified the glory and potency of the institution long since gone. Rarely in the history of art has there been an artistic movement that after so long a time is still seen as the embodiment of modernity. Kandinsky, Klee, Albers, Gropius, and Breuer and all the other venerated artists are still seen as modern, despite their creative powers having been extinguished decades ago. It is this contemporaneity of the design language that makes any examination of Bauhaus so fascinating and productive. The past one hundred years have spanned almost the whole of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries, the historical period that has so profoundly shaped our present.
With his project, Michael Wesely takes up the theme of the passing of time. The artist searched for ideal locations to mount his cameras to look out to their surroundings from within Bauhaus related buildings. The cameras will be permanently installed for 365 days, but do not point towards the exteriors of these icons of modernity; instead they followed the passage of time from within, opening up the view outwards. The architecture remains static and the architectural “monuments” become a place from which the photographic view can capture the world and the passing of time. Despite these one hundred years having irrevocably passed, history has left behind its traces at these places.
From this perspective, Wesely gives the past one hundred years a further year of exposure, and so opens up through his photographs, a receptive space, a tension field on culture and landscape, geopolitics, the timelessness of the Bauhaus buildings, the constant – albeit mostly imperceptible – changes of society and the cultural landscape and, of course, our own transience as observers of these changes.
This work in in Barcelona is based on a project by Michael Wesely originated in 2012/2013 about the Mies van der Rohe House (the Landhaus Lemke) in Berlin, that in 2013, celebrated its 80th anniversary. A camera was installed inside to capture the movements in and around the house for the duration of a year. A book about this project is available in the bookstore and in Berlin at the Haus Lemke (www.miesvanderrohehaus.de).
An other work about Mies van der Rohe is currently continuing in the Berliner Nationalgalerie; the construction work for the building’s restoration is being captured by Michael Wesely’s camera for the duration of three years.
Michael Wesely succeeds in recording the transformations, the movement, the deconstruction and the restoration of Mies’ classicist ‘temple’ in a single long-span summary. This whole project is still ongoing and will hopefully be completed in time for the centenary of the Bauhaus.
The outward view from the Bauhaus houses combines three elements: the world, Bauhaus itself and photography, just as if Michael Wesely is drawing together the evanescence of time, the artistic design force of Bauhaus architecture, and long exposure photography into a single image. The images do not look from inside the houses out to the landscape and its surroundings, but rather make accessible to us the used-up opportunities of the past, the potential inherent in every reality by making it resonate in the tension between built-up space and its image, the photograph.
The cameras of Michael Wesely record different manifestations of Bauhaus architecture over one year; the developing images hint at the changes which are captured by way of the surrounding landscape. At the same time, these images highlight the monumentality of the buildings created so long ago. On the occasion of the Bauhaus anniversary, the artist has selected as his subjects, several important buildings designed by teachers and students of the Bauhaus movement.