Aachen, Germany

Andreas Fogarasi

Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst

In the 1880s, King Oscar II of Norway transplanted buildings from all the regions of the country; he had them dismantled and then rebuilt, stone by stone, on a plot of land just outside Oslo. This astonishing architectural “collection” forms the heart of the Norsk Folkemuseum, one of the world’s first open-air museums. With new buildings periodically being added, the collection bears witness to Norwegian folk culture from the Middle Ages to the present, contrasting the authenticity of genuine buildings with the fiction of their curated staging. In his own way, Andreas Fogarasi also amasses different kinds of architecture. Yet his collection lays no claim to authenticity. Rather, he is interested in the notion of staging itself, as realized via architecture and the institutions of the museum and of art.

With the two central works in his solo show at the Ludwig Forum, Fogarasi juxtaposed the folksy buildings of the Norsk Folkemuseum with the bold, high-tech creations of contemporary starchitects from all over the world. While the film Folkemuseum, 2010, created for the show, displays a slow pan across the facades and interiors of the open-air museum—wooden houses with grass-covered roofs, a stave church, a 1920s filling station, an architect’s apartment, the living quarters of Pakistani immigrants (complete with a television inside, showing a Bollywood film)—the photographs in his installation Untitled (Wise Corners), 2010, capture architectural details of signature works of contemporary architecture. But what we see in them are not the usual views of, say, Peter Eisenman’s Ciudad de Cultura, the Citroën flagship store in Paris by Manuelle Gautrand, or Daniel Libeskind’s Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto; instead, Fogarasi shows us the interstices: views through windows, electrical conduits, and the like. The photographs enter into a strange symbiosis with the winged presentation walls on which they are mounted—this folding-screen-like shape recalls the temporary display walls of a museum. But the lightness suggested by the association is subverted by the choice of material: The walls are made of marble.

And, indeed, these two works are more strongly connected than they might first appear. In addition to sharing the rubric of a collection, both are concerned with “staging spaces”—to quote one of the text fragments that Fogarasi has superimposed like intertitles over the slow stream of images in Folkemuseum. These texts point further to the artistic modus operandi here: a film about, a documentary film, about, collecting spaces, activating, reenacting. In a sense, one might describe the Norsk Folkemuseum, with its collapsing of spatial and chronological parameters as it represents and juxtaposes a wide range of epochs and regions, as a precursor to Disneyland. The spectacular works of architecture featured in the installation in the next room stage themselves, as it were, spotlighting the cities, museums, and corporations that erected them. Fogarasi’s installation—as a hybrid combining display, sculpture, and architecture—plays with the notion of city marketing. Just as his photographs concentrate on details and margins while excluding iconic views of the buildings, his installation also subverts the grandeur these buildings celebrate. In lieu of monumentality, he privileges a sense of scale in which the visitor/viewer becomes the basis for the proportions. It’s a critical commentary on an architecture that aims to impress, but one that Fogarasi has managed both to simulate and undermine.

Astrid Wege

Translated from German by Oliver E. Dryfuss.