Maja Weyermann

Modernity brought a new kind of space into being, one that was historically predetermined: a unified space with inherent clarity, transparency, and logic. In this space, the order of classical geometry is as much at home as the idea of a purified architecture reduced to its material qualities. In the images of Maja Weyermann, this space reemerges, albeit in a changed form. Each of them depicts a single space, often a historically charged relic of modernism, but by being virtual they break with modernism. Thus, what arises is an incestuous, even self-impregnating space, genetically altering the classically unified space that is its parental legacy.

At first glance, Weyermann’s images appear to be digitally manipulated photographs. Walls, windows, furnishings, and reflections seem like they were digitally introduced, after the fact, to photographs of real interior spaces. But the opposite is true. These are computer simulations, digitally constructed or rather “rendered” rooms, though they are based on the original plans and cross sections of real buildings. This is the case with, among others, Absence, 2000, whose model is the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe. Three of the images are based on the Wittgenstein House, while Luxus I and II (Luxury I and II), 2002, refer to a bar in Berlin.

Despite all evidence of their historically factual origins, the represented rooms can hardly be empirically reconstructed. Interior architectural elements such as stairs, walls, and glass have obscure coordinates, even when the overall impression suggests they must be there. Elsewhere, the suggested unity of the space is broken by an apparent ambivalence between transparency and reflection. Objects in reflections may find themselves behind the reflecting medium. A closer look reveals that this, too, is a physical impossibility. And so the objects and their reflected images remain sited in a spatial nowhere.

Weyermann’s spaces are, at their most plausible, understood as cinematic sequences, as the overlapping of temporal, real, and subjective perspectival changes that, in film, would follow one another in a particular space. On the other hand, the images display a striking turn to the aesthetic of modernism and its favorite medium, glass, in its qualities and materiality. Transparency, semitransparency, and reflection thus take on structural functions that consciously intervene in the tectonic qualities of the presented rooms. But these become irreconcilable with the modernist-idealistic interpretation of transparency, with its claim to clarity and ease of comprehension. It is precisely the different degrees of transparency here, the permeability of interior and exterior walls, windows, and reflected things, that runs against the grain of any metaphoric understanding of transparency. In this way, the unified space becomes incongruent with itself. It is not that two or more spaces meet in one place in these images; rather, a single space meets itself, in that it becomes individuated within itself and then comes back together, synthesized anew. Perhaps it is a modern fall from grace and accession to knowledge, as suggested by the only living creature in these images, aside from a few plants: a coiled-up snake in Luxus II. The knowledge of this space might allow insight, but not a thorough comprehension.

Wolf Jahn

Translated from German by Sara Ogger.