Judith Siegmund :: Visual Art, Conceptual Art, Philosophy

Quatre Vues pris de l'Espace Global (Four Views of Global Space)

[Translate to English:] (Plakataktion im 13. Arrondissement Paris) 1999

Potsdamer Platz, constructed in the vacant middle of Berlin, and Paris Rive Gauche, the chic residential and office district encircling the new national library in the east of Paris – what does one have to do with the other? When going to these two locations as an observer, the initial thing determinable is an aesthetic criterion embracing structural dimension and distribution, façade design, and arrangement of the building interstices. People moving within the architecture are changed by it. One strategy is to appropriate architecture itself as pictorial material and interpret it through diverse manipulations of the pictorial material. Despite the historical differences between the authoritarian, monumental construction style on part of the French government(s) and the architectural style of Potsdamer Platz (based on the three American stalwarts of business, consumption and leisure), on an aesthetic level numerous parallels apparently exist. This is due, in part, to the enormous dimensions of the construction sites themselves. The previous history of both locations has been thoroughly obliterated. In Berlin, gone is the history of Potsdamer Platz as the most dynamic intersection of Europe, as a border, as the fallow land of the divided city, as an aspect of the history of the Wall. In Paris Rive Gauche, gone are the suburb characteristics and its specific social structures: the Salvation Army's social shelters for the homeless, the cheap housing for emigrants in the buildings of Sonacotra, the small merchants and inhabitants, lacking a so-called "normal" income. None of them will be beneficiaries of the new housing and business district.

The term "absence" – as it is read in both English and French – should allude to the nonexistence of history shared by both locations. To what extent the aesthetic of the newly constructed architecture is connected to this absence of history, that is a question of interest.

Judith Siegmund