URSULA MUMENTHALER "AREA"
5 November 2016 – 7 January 2017
The Swiss artist Ursula Mumenthaler (b.1955 in Staffelbach) lives and works in Geneva. Her work often deals with the play of light and architecture in space, which she gives expression through her preferred medium of photography. Things began with her interest in interior spaces, where the artist creates new illusionistic spaces by means of painted installations and photography.
Since 2008 the artist has been intensely occupied with the theme of architecture’s role in outdoor spaces in interaction with nature. The press photos of natural catastrophes which flood our media landscape on an almost daily basis provide inspiration. It is the frightening and simultaneously captivating aesthetic of these images that inspires Ursula Mumenthaler to create her work: humanity in its permanent struggle against the power of nature, which we constantly try to escape while always failing to do so.
Thus in AREA the focus is on the collision between nature and human-made artificiality. In her most recent photographic work Ursula Mumenthaler depicts formations of buildings embedded within landscapes that are generally apocalyptic in appearance. The cities made of Bristol board are wrapped in photographs of actual facades from Berlin and Paris with actual landscape photos laid in on top of them.
The images are invested with a destructive beauty through the effect of superposition and the choice of an aerial perspective. The city is taken over by the elements of nature in a manner resembling that in Franz Hohler’s book “Die Rückeroberung” (The reconquest). The city seems abandoned; the struggle against nature appears to have been lost. Only the buildings continue to recall the civilisation that formerly existed.
In the series “Journal”, on the other hand, Ursula Mumenthaler uses real images of ecological catastrophes in a semi-abstract form. The work is presented as an installation with the related publication “Journal”. It consists of press photos altered by the artist to such an extent that – as colour negatives – they evoke an entirely distinctive, apocalyptic elegance. The fragility of our world, in which we try to control everything, becomes hauntingly palpable.
Marina Huonker, October 2016
Translation: Michael Wetzel