Wolfgang Weileder is best known for his large-scale temporary site-specific architectural installations and sculpture, although his research also includes photography, film, sound installation and performance.
Primarily concerned with the examination and critical deconstruction of architecture, public spaces and the interactions we have with the urban environment, Weileder’s work investigates the relationship between time and space and the interface between reality and virtuality in order to question our understanding of the public sphere.
In ‘Replica’, Weileder used contemporary construction processes to engage directly with the historical and spatial parameters of two European city squares: Piazza Oberdan in Milan (Italy) and Martelarenplein in Leuven (Belgium).
The project consisted of two temporary time-based site-specific architectural scale installations and associated long-exposure photographs that referred to largely forgotten historical buildings located in or beneath public squares.
Slapende Meermin recreated the façade of a four-story house situated at the northern end of Martelarenplein in Leuven, Belgium (2008 (below left) Le Terme, developed from Diurno Venezea, a derelict 1920s subterranean public bathhouse, was realised at Piazza Oberdan, Milan (2008) (below right).
Both works raised questions about the relationship between contemporary public art and historical architecture, the uses of public spaces, and the interaction between artist, participant and audience.
To do this, Weileder and his collaborators turned and/or mirrored the existing architecture, and reconstructed it as a temporary installation in the centre of the public square e.g. the facade of the Leuven building was rotated 900 so as to appear like physical manifestations of its shadow (below left). The 8 meter long and 5 meter high subterranean structure of the Milan bathhouse, meanwhile, was mirrored to the surface and rebuilt on the piazza above, appearing like physical reflection of itself (below right).
The allusion to the shadow/mirror image within the permanent and prominent context of the squares highlighted the tension between temporality and the presumed permanence of architectural structures. Through a performative and temporary gesture, the construction of the monumental became an event, an experience in flux that encouraged the public to engage with the architectural heritage of their cities.
|Image 11: Le terme 2, 2009, Gelatin silver print (104 x 144 cm)||Image 12: Le terme s290, 2009, Lambda print (32 x 51 cm)|
Both events were recorded using long exposure analogue photography and an innovative digital image recording technology developed by Weileder. The resulting ‘time-lapse’ images were exhibited as large-scale prints in two series: one black and white, the other colour. In the second series, special digital cameras took one-pixel wide recordings in regular intervals during the project, then conflated these ‘slice-recordings’ into single photographs, with time progressing from left to right.
Wolfgang Weileder, Projects 2002-2008, (solo show), ASSAB One, Milan, 2008; Le Terme e La Sirena, (solo show), Ciocca Arte Contemporanea, Milan, 2009; To The Demon King’s Castle, of course, (solo show with M+M), Workplace Gallery, Gateshead, UK, 2009.
Slapende Meermin, was commissioned by STUK Kunstencentrum and realised by Weileder in collaboration with R.Bau Ltd (South Tyneside), Newcastle College UK, and Wonen en Werken, Leuven. Slapende Meermin was presented as part of the STUKSTART festival in Martelarenplein, Leuven, Belgium, in 2008.
Le terme, was co-funded by Galleria Ciocca Arte Contemporanea and Arts Council England and exhibited in Piazza Oberdan, Milan in 2008. Collaborators here included Politecnico di Milano, ASSAB-One Milan and Spazio Oberdan and the construction of the work was sponsored by UK and Italian construction companies (r.Bau Ltd, Layher and Gasbeton).
In ‘Suspended Space’, Weileder developed and realised two site-specific gallery installations that questioned the relationship between art and architectural space:
Skydeck was realised at Workplace Gallery, Gateshead UK, in 2008 (left) Galleria 480 was realised at Neon Gallery, Bologna Italy, in 2008 (right)
The works extend Weileder’s interrogation of gallery architecture, previously demonstrated in projects such as Transfer (2006). Rather than pursue his enquiry concerning art and architectural space via the object-based territory associated with the minimalists however, Weileder took as his discrete point of departure the (sometimes complex) correlation of interior and exterior space. In particular, he focused on the destabilisation of the viewing experience within a realm in which viewing is paramount - the gallery space.
|Skydeck, 2009, Computer Generated Proposal Drawing||Skydeck (second floor) 2009, Neon Gallery, Bologna, Italy|
Both Skydeck and Galleria 480 were developed and tested though an innovative, and iterative, method of suspension.
For example, in Skydeck, external architectural features were juxtaposed with the interior gallery space through a self-referential process of replicating and shifting existing architectural parameters. The resulting echoing effect destabilized and deconstructed the gallery as a functional space and emphasized the phenomenological rather than solely visual nature of perception.
In Galleria 480, Weileder developed this approach, rotating the structure and inserting the exterior within the interior space to juxtapose the interior gallery space with its own architecture.
|Galleria 480, 2009, Computer Generated Proposal Drawing||Galleria 480, 2009, Neon Gallery, Bologna, Italy|
Developing this self-referential element to explore the interior/exterior spatial symbiosis further, ‘Suspended Space’ complicated the experience of being within the gallery. For example, the use of lightweight concrete blocks suspended from the ceiling (which were supported through scaffolding) alludes to the architectural echoing, but the suspension disrupts straightforward comprehension. The resulting interference between the existing and the inserted architectural structures offered new readings of architectural space, and its creation.
Skydeck (Gateshead, UK, 2009) was commissioned and curated by Workplace Gallery, and sponsored by the construction company R.Bau Ltd (Sunderland, UK).
Galleria 480, (Bologna, Italy, 2009) was commissioned and curated by Neon Gallery, with substantial in-kind sponsorship from two international construction companies: Layher and Gasbeton. The project was also supported by the Nosadella Due residency programme (Bologna).
‘The Atlas Project’ is a longitudinal research project, begun in 2009. Comprising multiple recordings of public spaces in cities worldwide, the images use an innovative photographic process developed specifically for the work.
In ‘The Atlas Project’, Weileder asks: how can still photography depict and decode the nature and use of contemporary urban spaces? Aiming to reveal new insights into photographic processes and to offer a different conceptualisation of the temporal within photography, particularly with regard to the spatial, he developed, and continues to implement, a new method for digital photography.
_Sergels torg, Stockholm Slice 204_, 2010, Archival inkjet print (83x162 cm) detail with legend
For example, Weileder first uses a special high-resolution camera to record a horizontal ‘slice’ of space at regular intervals (usually 3.5 seconds) over a predefined period of time (between 30 min and 8 hrs). The individually recorded ‘slices’ are then arranged one above the other to form the final image. Tailor-made software is next used to arrange the ‘slices’ that are not altered in this process, representing a true photographic recording of the space over time. The number of ‘slices’ recorded, and the horizontal angle of view captured, thus define the final scale, dimension and proportion of each image. A legend on the right side is part of the final image and includes the title, a short description of the events during the recording and all relevant technical data.
This particular method, inspired by the technology used for photo finish images in sport events, renders space - especially central urban public places - as mutable, rather than static.
_Rynek Starego Miasta, Warsaw Slice 2646_, 2009, Archival inkjet print (154x127cm)
_Place des Vosges_, Paris Slice 2356, 2013, Archival inkjet print (137x233cm)
Recording different 'public spaces' around the world (including Gothenburg, Amsterdam, Salzburg, Paris, Washington, Venice, Singapore, Bario, Tokyo, Sydney, Dusseldorf and Warsaw) Weileder continues to add to this ‘world atlas' of images. Unlike cartographical maps, however, which are composed of static geo-graphical and architectural markings, these images describe and interpret the world through human activities and time changes. Concerned with time and the use of the space rather than the topography of the location, human activity (the movements of people, the traffic), as well as natural changes (clouds, sun light) are traced. These defining marks map the changes that occur during the recorded period.
A definitive index/reference of all the recordings, as well as the sum of all prints, ‘The Atlas Project’ can be presented in large flat files and display cases, or as a series of individual framed maps.
Combining and representing space and time, the project allows for new interpretations of the captured areas, and, funded by an Arts Council England grant (£15,000), will be shown in a touring exhibition as follows:
Gallery for Contemporary Art, UK (solo show), December 2013 – February 2014 Wolfgang Weileder, Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Germany (solo show), July 2014 – September 2014
Individual prints have been shown at Rotate, Contemporary Art Society, London 2011 and Art Cologne – New Contemporaries 2012, Germany (solo show with Workplace Gallery).
‘Res Publica’ was a temporary installation that sought to explore dialogues between privilege and deprivation through a number of site-specific interventions, commissioned for the ‘5x5’ Washington DC (USA) public art festival in 2012.
Extending Weileder’s previous research, which interrogated formal and temporal aspects of urban architectural space, ‘Res Publica’ directly engaged in complex and pressing societal issues around the social function of architecture and public space.
It comprised of three distinct elements: a stainless steel leaflet dispenser, printed plans for making a 1:50 scale architectural cardboard model of the Supreme Court (PDF copies of the printed plan were also downloadable from the ‘5x5’ website), and four cardboard versions of the model installed at various sites around the city, constructed with the help of students at Washington’s Corcoran College of Art and Design.
In referring to diametrically opposed forms and concepts of architecture - e.g. the monumental, neo-classical, Palladian-style architecture of the Supreme Court and the temporary shelter of a homeless person made from found material - ‘Res Publica’ provided a framework through which notions of public and private space are questioned in unexpected and provoking ways. Site-specificity was integral here. For example, the four initial cardboard models were installed at locations selected for their associations with privilege and homelessness, including the Washington DC Jewish Community Centre, the Cosmos Club parking lot and the TechWorld Plaza. This strategic placement provided the contextual framing of the installation.
Plans and building instructions for a 1:50 scale architectural model of the Supreme Court (side 1)
The free distribution of the construction manuals further proposed a direct interaction with the general public and encouraged the audience to take actively part in the work. Potentially, additional cardboard models could have appeared at unexpected locations throughout the city centre of Washington DC.
Originally commissioned for the ‘5x5 Public Art Festival’ in Washington DC, USA, 20th March – 27th April 2012, parts of ‘Res Publica’ have also been shown in ‘Magnificent Distance’ at the Globe Gallery, Newcastle (August 2012). This group exhibition was accompanied by the catalogue, Magnificent Distance – Five Site-Specific Installations, which was published by Grit & Pearl, Newcastle in 2012 (ISBN 978-0-9573425-70-7).
Current projects include the AHRC funded Jetty project, developed as a collaboration between Weileder and urbanist Simon Guy (Director of the Architecture Research Centre at the University of Manchester) with additional project partners from the arts, heritage, education and business community. The project will create a temporary large-scale architectural artwork integrated within the impressive wooden structure of Dunston Staithes, a landmark Scheduled Monument and Grade II structure on the south bank of the River Tyne in NewcastleGateshead. Throughout its development and exhibition the Jetty artwork will be utilised as a catalyst for research and debate into local and professional meanings, interpretations and understandings of sustainability.
For more information on Weileder’s work, visit:
His work is also discussed in Continuum, a monograph on Weileder published internationally by Kerber Verlag (Bielefeld/Berlin): https://www.kerberverlag.com/en/detailview/controller/Shop/action/show/product/2901.html
Le Terme also featured prominently on Ultra Fragola Web TV Channel: http://www.ultrafragola.com/it/03280/1111/la-vita-nuova-del-diurno-venezia.html