Renate Buser

Espaces et vides.
Reconstructed

16 octobre au 8 novembre 2006
Installation réalisée par l’Ecole d’Architecture de l’EPFL

Five years ago, the artist Renate Buser realised an installation entitled Espaces et vides in La Chaux-de-Fonds, using photographs of those 19th century residential buildings that are called massifs up there. The installation, which was housed in a large, windowless hall, consisted of three parts. When taking the photographs, the artist had chosen angles that made the building appear in strong perspectives, and she had worked on the negatives to remove the roofs and pavements. In this manner, the façades resemble decorative elements without any depth, thus reducing urban spaces to empty spaces. When entering the hall, spectators were struck by the trompe-l’oeil effect of the images but at the same time apprehended the strange effect of how they had been placed – like in a dream. Walking around altered the viewing angles, which made the façades change their shapes and the perspectives accelerate, or vice versa. Thus this installation asserts the dialectic of real space and its image, unreal space, at several levels by making our attention glide from one reality into the other. And it represents far more than an astonishing trompe-l’oeil effect: it teaches a lesson in how to perceive space.

The importance of the problems of this kind of perception for a School of Architecture has prompted us to invite Renate Buser to reconstruct her work even though its counterpart – the reality of La Chaux-de-Fonds – is lacking here. When reconstructing her work, the artist has now reduced her installation in order to focus on this other way of how we perceive it. And although the white walls only imitate the hall of the Musée des Beaux-Arts as reduced to 75%, the two pillars that stand in this « model » still convey the presence of the real exhibition hall. In this way a new level is added to the play with the perception of architectural space.

Façades La Chaux-de-Fonds