‘CONSTRUCTIONS’ at Carl Freedman Gallery, London

Barbara Kasten, Construct VI-B 1981

Barbara Kasten and Alexandra Leykauf

27th January – 26th February 2011

Carl Freedman Gallery

44a Charlotte Road, London


The montaging of history and place is at the heart of Alexandra Leykauf’s practice. Pictorial compositions are made through the juxtaposition or superimposition of photographic reproductions or photocopies of source photographs (mostly architectural interiors and exteriors, and mostly 20th Century). Sometimes these reproductions are pasted up onto freestanding screens rather like stage props and presented as three-dimensional objects, or are re-photographed (re-staged) and re-presented as two dimensional images. These images, when collected together, become almost kaleidoscopic at times. Her large wall-mounted reproductions in this exhibition, Rohbau Collage II (2011), conflate the photographic reproductions of the gallery architecture with other architectural spaces. They are quite disorientating, in a hall-of mirrors kind of way, making you feel like you are somewhere at once familiar and new.

Leykauf’s papier-mâché relief Odeon (2010), part of an on going series, can be described as a two-stage translation: architecture into photography and subsequently photography into sculpture. The dramatic perspective of the source photograph – a classic movie theatre – is forced onto the three-dimensional object, therefore perspective is no longer the result of the point of view the spectator/camera takes, but is now intrinsic to the object itself.

Barbara Kasten explores modes of reorganizing the visual environment. Using geometric shapes, mirrors, glass, light and shadows, Kasten has fabricated. For the last thirty years Barbara Kasten has created elaborate constructions, which are created for, and exist only as photographs. The scale of these constructions has ranged from the moderate, artist studio sized, to full-blown architectural interactions that have been more akin to film sets with crews in attendance. While Kasten has referred to the influences of The Bauhaus and Constructivism in her work, and there are clearly traces back to work of Moholy Nagy, she can also be seen as a precursor to a new generation of artists using photography and constructed environments such as Eileen Quinlan and Sara VanDerBeek. Perhaps a less expected but also a defining influence was her time as a West Coast artist that was spent with artists such as James Turrell and Robert Irwin who were working light as a primary material.

Somewhat reminiscent of Constructivist stage sets, the colour photographs in the exhibition are unique Polaroids and are from a series produced in the early 1980’s. The Studio Constructs (2007-2008) are relatively muted, with a colour range that is close to black and white, and a pared down range of materials that is just transparent glass, shadows and light.

Studio Constructs (2007-2008), Installation View, Carl Freedman

For more installation images, please visit www.carlfreedmangallery.com