in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona

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‘Visual Spaces of Today’ by Andreas Gursky

 

Starting May 25th, 2023, German photographer Andreas Gursky exhibits 40 of his images that document  globalization and mass consumption at Fondazione MAST in Bologna. Titled ‘Visual Spaces of Today,’ the exhibition, co-curated by Urs Stahel, spotlights the photographer’s thematic images that suggest perspectives on work, the economy, and globalization.

 

Each photograph reveals the concrete spaces of production plants, goods-handling centers, temples of consumption, transport hubs, energy and food industries, and financial centers across the world. Gursky selected the images as he kept the acronym MAST in mind, which stands for Manifattura di Arti, Sperimentazione, Tecnologia (Factory of Arts, Experience and Technology).

 

Included in the exhibition, which overlaps with Fondazione Mast’s 10-year celebration, are 40 images by the artist, dating from his early works (Krefeld, Hühner, 1989) to his more recent production (V&R II and V&R III, 2022), travelling great lengths, from Salerno (1990) to Hong Kong (2020), and combining the modern tourism industry (Rimini, 2003) with age-old production processes (Salinas, 2021).

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
Andreas Gursky, Kodak, 1995 © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023, photo by Sprüth Magers | header image: Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent II, Diptychon, 2001 © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023, photo by Sprüth Magers | images courtesy of Fondazione MAST

 

 

Salerno marks Andreas Gursky’s landscape photography

 

Andreas Gursky sits inside Fondazione MAST, a solemn expression crossing his face, and ponders the selection of images that are dear to him. One of them is Salerno (1990), the first image in the exhibition, greeting the viewers into his documentary den of photographs. He was cruising along the Italian coast by the seaside one holiday, and all of a sudden, the uniformed rows of vehicles and stacked port containers came into view. Gursky had learned the ropes of black-and-white photography in art and even crossed the path early on in his career. This time, in Salerno, he took out his camera and captured the industrial landscape in full color.

 

‘I wanted to photograph that landscape, and I told myself, it is time for me to do what I want. I used a tripod for this one and quickly snapped the images because the sun was already setting. Then, I was not sure if it would become an image of mine, but when I got back to my workshop and looked at the result, it also seemed like a postcard. I must say this image is important to me because it inaugurated my landscape photography. When I look back at this image, I recognize the moment I shifted my approach to large-scale photography. This image was a turning point for me,’ says Gursky during the press conference at Fondazione MAST.

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
Andreas Gursky, Bahrain I, 2005 © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023 | photo by Sprüth Magers

 

 

Globalization in the world of work

 

Large-scale photographs of Andreas Gursky grace the exhibition space of Fondazione MAST. The intentional size encourages viewers to step beyond the designated line view to scrutinize the images and find details that plain sight may miss at first glance. Globalization in the world of work brews gradually in mind until the viewers come to terms with the world they live in running on mass consumption and the ever-transmuting economy influencing the way people work. Yet beyond the social and political themes Gursky has captured, a poetic and nostalgic tone shadows the photos through the details viewers might look past when they glimpse at the shots for the first time.

 

For Kamiokande (2007), Gursky flew to Japan and photographed the neutrino detector research facility and observatory. ‘It was around 1,000 meters below the sea level to prevent catching radiation,’ says Gursky. He adds that normally, the facility would be full of water, but during his visit, the cavernous observatory seemed to lack it. Tiers of golden spheres lure in the viewers and retain their attention as they gaze at the image, floating yet attached to the wall of the facility. In Gursky’s image, the globes seemingly glow in sequence, almost tricking the viewers of the detail that makes the image odic. Glancing on the lower right, two oars with rowers paddle through the still water. ‘Without these boats, the image would have been scientific. I was moved by this detail. It gives the image a romantic and musical perspective,’ says Gursky.

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
Andreas Gursky, Rimini, 2003 | image © designboom

 

 

Compositions and uniformity in art photography

 

Composition matters to Andreas Gursky. While post-editing can help, being in the moment and snapping the shot at the right time and angle are deemed essential to the photographer. At times, Gursky looks for fragments that can piece the whole picture together, an attempt viewers can see in Bahrain I (2005). Here, he hopped on a helicopter and armed with his camera, he circled around the Bahrain International Circuit raceway like a vulture waiting for its prey. Past the photos and into the editing, Gursky created a snaking racetrack that slopes down from a sandy mountain, every car and person disappearing from the pictorial canvass. 

 

Uniformity follows balance, and such a style is seen in many of Gursky’s images. In RHEIN II (1999), a chance encounter occurred. ‘It is not how I imagined the final result would be, but after that, I started to reflect on how I took photographs and was working along the theme of abstract expressionism,’ he says. The image oozes tranquility in nature. Gursky was on a hike and jog when he found himself running along the bank of the Rhine River. At some point during his run, he paused and saw an image of a large abstract horizon in nature with the green grass and water flow stretching endlessly like a seamless tape. There, he knew it would be an image showcasing the stillness on the horizon that is free from disruption.

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
Andreas Gursky, Hong Kong Shanghai Bank III, 2020 © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023 | photo by Sprüth Magers

 

 

Salinas in Ibiza as an image of respite

 

Serenity within rapid globalization and pocketed quiet moments in times of city frenzy come into play inside Fondazione MAST. Andreas Gursky masters pulling the viewers into the painterly compositions of his images for visual purposes while pushing them into the sphere of social and political nuances pervasive in his industrial and landscape photographs. One moment, the viewers bask in silence, reveling in the transient stillness, then seconds later, gradually rather than abruptly, they see the world they live in, back to the ground from the temporary high.

 

The last image that Gursky discussed at Fondazione Mast was Salinas (2021). The photographer went to Ibiza and captured the landscape of salt pools at the feet of rugged, rocky hills. No unmistakable details spring into view; just silhouettes of the grided pools and mountains. The obscure lines and slopes underline the picturesque landscape, snapped at the right time and at the right angle. The sun has sunk but painted the sky with orange hues, and the halcyon of the water reflects the surroundings. Gursky, his camera ready, captured the respite, breathing in the wondrous silence and breathing out globalization in the world of work for a while.

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Andreas Gursky, Salerno, 1990 © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023 | photo by Sprüth Magers

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
part of Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent II, Diptychon, 2001 | image © designboom

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
Andreas Gursky, Amazon, 2016 | image © designboom

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
Andreas Gursky, Cocoon I, 2007 | image © designboom

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
Andreas Gursky, Greeley, 2002 | image © designboom

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
Andreas Gursky, Rhein II, 1999 | image © designboom

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Andreas Gursky, Les Mées, 2016 © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023 | photo by Sprüth Magers

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
Andreas Gursky, F1 Boxenstopp I, 2007 | image © designboom

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
installation view, image © designboom | left: Andreas Gursky, Toys’R’Us, 1999; right: Andreas Gursky, Tokyo Stock Exchange, 1990

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
installation view | image © designboom

in MAST, andreas gursky captures globalization in the world of work from bahrain to arizona
installation view of Andreas Gursky, Kamiokande, 2007 | photo by Luca Capuano

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Andreas Gursky, Salinas, 2021 © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023 | photo by Sprüth Magers

 

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Andreas Gursky, V&R II, 2022 (2009) © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023 | photo by Sprüth Magers
Andreas Gursky, V&R II, 2022 (2009) © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023 | photo by Sprüth Magers
Andreas Gursky, Apple, 2020 © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023 | photo by Sprüth Magers
Andreas Gursky, Apple, 2020 © ANDREAS GURSKY by SIAE 2023 | photo by Sprüth Magers

project info:

 

name: Visual Spaces of Today

photographer and curator: Andreas Gursky

co-curator: Urs Stahel

exhibition space: Fondazione MAST

location: via Speranza 42, Bologna, Italy

dates: May 25th, 2023 to January 7th, 2024

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