Monday, 22 December 2008


(From TOP:) (1) Poverty Housing, Americus, Georgia, 2008 (with Rebecca Baron) 35mm, colour, sound, 13:58 min. Produced by MAK, Vienna. Filmstill; (2) The She Zone, 2004 (with Anette Baldauf). Video, color, sound, 24min. Still; (3) Exquisite Function 2007 HD Video 11 min; audio loop, 19:42min. Filmstill; (4) Exquisite Function. Productionstill; (5) Zentrum, 2005. Productionstill; (6) 10104 Angelo View Drive, 2004. 16mm, color, silent, 6:56mins. Filmstill;  (7) Remake Las Vegas (2001)(with Annette Baldauf) Video, color, sound, 18:47min. Still; (8-10) Short Hills, 1999, Video, 15:58min. Still;  installation view Galerie im Taxispalais, 2001. Photo: Margherita Spiluttini. All images courtesy the artist.


The above sequence works in several ways: (1)  a sampler drawn from a range of Dorit Margreiter's projects between 1999-2008; (2) a series of single images, each a small case study of relations between objects, representation, and broader issues of space, geography, architecture and capital; (3) an artificial sequence with its own narrative and momentum.

To give a flavour of the broader projects from which the images here are taken: Poverty Housing, Americus, Georgia, (2008, with Rebecca Baron) features images of the Global Village Discovery Center in Americus, Georgia, with its re-construction of a South African Slum as part of a non-profit theme park raising funds for social aid projects; The She Zone (2004, with Annette Baldauf), is a slide show documenting a trip to a women's only shopping space in Abu Dhabi. Exquisite Function (2007) is an HD video investigating the Hansaviertel area of Berlin, designated "city of tomorrow" in 1957, and in relationship to which Margreiter constructed a range of different living space interiors.

Other projects here explore the built environment as an expression of a particular societies idea(l)s: Zentrum (2005) focusses upon the socialist architecture of the soon to be demolished Bruehlzentrum housing block in Liepzig; 10104 Angelo View Drive (2004) offers an archetypal view of the image-capital urbanism of Los Angeles.

Such a range of subjects also involves a variety of relationships between subject and artist. For Short Hills (1999), Margreiter visited her Chinese-American cousins in suburban Jersey and asked them about their favourite soap operas; whilst Remake Las Vegas focussed on the gambling-cities declared desire to become a real city, complete with its Koolhas/Gehry designed Guggenheim franchise. 

These different situations are linked both by the artists own on-going, shifting practice, and by global economic processes expressed in space, architecture and media. Viewing the images as a sequence can suggest a seamless morphing between different situations: skyscrapers and leaves, city and village, wealth and poverty, construction and re-construction, production shots and street scenes. A gallery installation of the projected image is both brought into this process and the place for commenting upon it. 

How to proceed? Perhaps return to the notion of individual images - a form Margreiter herself used with the slide show format of  The She Zone.  Looking at individual images as case studies highlights the differences and ruptures in each image: the path and mown grass around the constructed slum-huts of Poverty Housing.  Such details have a double effect: highlighting the distinctiveness of each situation, as they link the images into the others here, and many others besides. 

I'm reading two books as I put together this sequence. One is Jacques Ranciere's The Future of Images, and his sense - I'm twenty pages in - that images are both ideographic signs and mute, silent, opaque presences. The other is the anthology of writings and interviews that comprise the Markus Miessen edited East Coast Europe, recently published by the excellent Sternberg Press.

I found much in both of these books that resonated with the particular tensions of Margreiter's images, both individually, in their original projects, and in this sequence.  Her own interests are usefully juxtaposed with Markus Miessen's summary of some of the ideas comprising East Coast Europe:

East Coast Europe dives into the urgent details of a dense network of contemporary experiences of the European Union's extensive exchange of knowledge, people and goods with the East Coast of the United States, and also with its own eastern border. These two crisp north-south borderlines belie many geographic spatial complexities including the islands of Switzerland and the Western Balkans that now reside within the landmass of Europe but outside of the European Union. 

The project set out to investigate the cultural and political confluence between these two north-south borderlines, one geographic and one political. What is this new transverse region through multiple time zones? What are its challenges and possibilities for social, political and spatial  practices?

Europe as a political and economic construct has been expanding ever since the Treaty of Rome in 1957. In its current territorial configuration, the most "eastward" point of the EU is near Turtle Bay at the tip of Cyprus. This point may shift soon. By constructing an imagined scenario in which Europe is an island, and therefore has a coast - a clearly defined perimeter with an edge - one might be able to speculate on the political, cultural  and economic variables and how they might spatialize in the future. 

Engaging in this mind-game, defining criteria as to what constitutes the "inside" and "outside" becomes increasingly difficult. (Markus Miessen ed. East Coast Europe, 29-30)