Sabine Hornig

The boundaries between private and public space are fluid. Shopping malls, administrative buildings, and government service centers are becoming festivalized places with attached restaurants, movies, and round-the-clock bars, while the actual work done there tends to vanish into the buildings’ upper floors or side wings. Conversely, private living space is becoming increasingly officelike, thanks to telecommuting.

For Sabine Hornig, these ambiguously differentiated places in society are symbolized by building entrances. The two model-like sculptures shown here were based on different doorways. Her sculptures copy the structure of a building element without imposing any special artistic signature. By covering the objects with a layer of stucco, she merely emphasizes their formal indifference. Plattenbau (Bosna), 2000, is an exact copy of an entrance to a government-planned high-rise apartment block that had been built using prefabricated panels. Reduced in scale by a third, the entryway becomes a tangible object that corresponds in size to the visitor’s body. Rauhputz Forest, 2000, on the other hand, is a shrill yellow facade with a door spackled shut and an open window area with a “view”—in reality a photograph of a forest landscape. Here the reconstructed space is a display, a link between architecture and artificially processed nature—emphasized by the use of a pixelized version of the photograph.

In both constructions a certain skepticism is evident toward the claim that modernist architecture promotes function over fashion. Even the pre-fab panels come across as ornamental. For Hornig the banality of these buildings with their anonymous, unspectacular form appears to be a subterfuge. In Plattenbau (Bosna), it is precisely the isolation of the entrance from the rest of the building that reveals what a bizarre collection of edges and corners it really is—a cacophony of architectural maneuvers. Through exact reconstruction she makes its inconsistencies apparent. Its complicated walls meet and interlock at a good dozen angles. The pure cubical building technique dovetails in more and more corners, as if even the constructions of state planning were strewn with ornaments. Reducing architecture to detail, Hornig proposes a parallel between the geometry of minimal art and the isolated forms of the various elements in an architectonic ensemble; alienated from their original architectural context, these elements can be seen as fittings interlaid between public and private realms.

This play with the forms of building fronts comes up again in a diptych from the photo series “11080.” The photos, taken from different distances, show the entrance to a garage in Los Angeles. In one the garage door marks a drastic cut, dividing the facade into surface and space. In the second, the entrance remains a dark hole framed by the facade. The perspectives overlap, but because of the displaced viewpoint the pictured spaces appear entirely disparate. Here the contrast of surface, facade, and space becomes apparent: The entrance as an abstract surface visually divides what it connects in real space. The passage between outside and inside stands for any boundary between spaces.

Harald Fricke

Translated from German by Elizabeth Felicella.