Åplus Berlin

Christin Kaiser - Künftige Ruinen

18.09.–20.11. 2021

Christin Kaiser – Künftige Ruinen (Future Ruins)

18th September – 20th November, 2021

Die neuen Tempel haben schon Risse (The new temples already have cracks)

Künftige Ruinen (Future Ruins)

Einst wächst Gras auch über diese Stadt (One day, this city will also be overgrown)

– Einstürzende Neubauten: Die Befindlichkeit des Landes (The country's state of mind)

Let us consider the city as a place of overlapping layers: here, relics from past centuries and decades are cramped together with current trends and the latest innovations. The city is filled with traces left by people, wars, invasions, social upheaval, subcultures, artists and politics. Here, every generation tackles anew the questions of how we want to live together as a community, and how we wish to use the buildings around us. How are we shaped by architecture? How do we perceive and engage with it?

For her second solo exhibition at Åplus, Christin Kaiser has brought together a number of new works that examine aspects of the architectural and the urban from different perspectives.

The ancient thermal baths Caracalla in Rome form the starting point for Christin Kaiser's sculpture Center Arc. The artist has transferred a fragment of the ruin, a piece of wall with a rounded arch, into textile in the form of a quilt. In this work, considerations on building refurbishment (keyword: thermal insulation) merge with the architectural theory of Gottfried Semper, who understood the shell, i.e. the exterior of a building, to be its “clothing”. The Caracalla thermal baths opened in 216 A.D. and were one of the largest built in the Roman Empire. In addition to the bathing facilities, in which there was room for several thousand bathers at a time, the gigantic halls also housed theatres, hairdressers, sports facilities and libraries. The baths were accessible to all citizens free of charge, and thus became the focal point of public life—sumptuously decorated wellness architecture for the people. The work's title also refers to the Dutch holiday park chain Center Parcs, which has been offering family holidays in tropical bathing paradises “not far from home” since the 1950s.

Another element of ancient architecture is taken up in the work Dorischer Ärmel (Dorian Sleeve), which melds a Dorian column (as known, for example, from Greek temples) with a sleeve. The sleeve, as an article of clothing or a person's “second skin”, nevertheless retains its characteristic shape despite the enormous enlargement, and thus defies the strict symmetrical rules of column construction. The use of padded fabric further underlines this conversion. The column becomes a soft tube, leaving nothing of the architecture but a shell, reminiscent of a puffy down jacket, that, without the support of a wearer, collapses in on itself.

As an analogy to the skin of a building, tree bark becomes the focus of the series entitled Baumwall (Tree Wall).

In the foreground of black-and-white photographs, the bark is blurred into an almost ornamental structure, behind which in-focus but largely hidden architectural fragments can be seen. One image is of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, and the other of two residential buildings in Berlin-Friedrichshain built by the architect Hans Scharoun. Both buildings—as different from each other as they may be—were classified as so “problematic” by subsequent generations that it was decided to hide them by planting a row of trees. The modernist architecture of Scharoun's Laubenganghäuser (1949-51) was incompatible with socialist ideas of architectural aesthetics as described in the “16 principles of urban development”. In the case of the Haus der Kunst (1933-37), built in Munich as a prime example of monumental Nazi architecture under personal supervision by Adolf Hitler, attempts were made in the 1970s to temper its presence by planting a row of linden trees in front of the main facade. Both examples illustrate the ideological and political dimensions that architecture can have, and how following generations respond to them. Furthermore, the works showcase how architectural and urban planning heritage is handled, which is also currently widely discussed.

The exhibition “Künftige Ruinen” (Future Ruins) thus addresses several questions: about a building's interior and exterior, how both are subject to continuous changes, and what remains. It asks how that which remains affects those who, decades and centuries later, should live, study and work in the architectural shells designed long ago. The exhibition also investigates how we perceive architecture and the urban space around us, and how we want to redesign it according to the possibilities available to us. Not least, questions of ecological and social strategies can be raised, addressing issues that ensure a long, sustainable and healthy life for us and for future generations.

Text: Katharina Wendler

Translation from the German: Sarah Dudley