An installation consisting of:
untitled 1 – 10 (Appartement de Le Corbusier), 2007/2009, framed archival inkjet prints
you were there with me, 2009, projected animation loop on DVD, perspex, aluminium
l’echo du monde, 1958/2009, digitally processed found sound recording.
dividing wall/architectural intervention.
The Appartement de Le Corbusier occupies the top floor of a building situated in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. Finished in 1934, the apartment house was intended by the architect to function as a fragment of his Radiant City, a totalising vision of urban planning that would integrate “sky, green, glass, cement”. In this sense the building provided Le Corbusier with opportunity to live under the conditions that he espoused in his numerous books, lectures and proposals concerning urban planning. The very move from the vibrant left bank culture of St Germain des Prés to the then backwater of Porte Molitor can be read as an exercise of personal conviction.
The apartment, which also housed Le Corbusier’s painting studio was kept as the architect’s home up until his death in 1965. Now empty and beyond function it exists in (and as) a type of spatial limbo. Maintained by the Foundation Le Corbusier the site is now unoccupied and in a sense beyond occupation. This former nexus of production and domesticity is rendered as ghost box; a haunted archive of the right angle.
The idea of absence suggests in itself a space for engagement with the apartment. It prompts us to consider not only the formal qualities of the building but the resonances and echoes contained therein. Indeed, Le Corbusier’s occupancy of the space was peppered by many such absences. His innumerable international lecturer tours and commissions meant that he was constantly in motion. However, the most troubling of these work-imposed absences, is the largely fruitless 18 months he spent during 1942-43 seeking influence with the occupied government of France in Vichy. It was a period that saw the sports ground directly opposite the apartment used as a makeshift detention centre for political dissidents.
By its very nature, photography instills in the viewer a sense of presence. It is a presence that is at once illusory yet disquietingly irresistible. How then do we approach a photography of absence? In working through this space it was my intention to engage a type of architecture in reverse, an unstable and suggestive other that reinterprets these implied absences through sound and movement. There is play of representational orders intended here that at once complicates and reanimates our perception of the space, that invites us to step away from the hushed reverie for the Modern and into its psychic shadow zone.