Brussels-based photographer Aglaia Konrad’s bricks and mortar

The work of Aglaia Konrad (Salzburg, 1960) documents the ever-evolving nature of our cities, capturing them through the glow of some of their most iconic sites and spaces. Working through photography, film and installations, she describes her growing body of work as “acting as a reading of (urban) decision-making at different levels.” With a solo exhibition of hers running until 18th September at Leuven’s M Museum, we speak practice, process and presentation with the Brussels-based artist.

What were your original ideas and intentions at the start of working on this new series?

There was no idea so to say but it was a beautiful accident; working with an analogue camera, I happened to have unknowingly exposed some films twice. I only saw the mistake once the films were developed.

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My work doesn’t simply record the world for the sake of photography, it is an active visual reading of decision-making at different levels.

What would you say was its starting point?

Accepting these double exposed films took me a while, but I finally could see their richness and uniqueness. They embody images one could not think of constructing, it’s too much of a mashing together of spaces and times, photographs taken at different moments of different subjects in different years. A continuous flow of images, hard to read as the eye has some diffculties to rest and focus and becomes something of an auto-focus camera. The images, which one could consider film strokes, don’t show a hierarchy or preference: no aesthetic decision has been taken and no editing has been done.

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All my images are about space, architecture, urbanism; how one moves and travels through space, experiences spaces, volumes, surfaces, materials and light through the built environment.

Can you talk to us about your approach in general?

My work doesn’t simply record the world for the sake of photography, it is an active visual reading of decision-making at different levels. It seeks to translate architecture and urban phenomena through an artistic vocabulary that tries to question its degrees of reality. The photographic image in itself is not the main objective; rather, it is the choice of images presented together in one work that becomes an articulation of signs and structures according to my subjective experience.

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How would you say this series fits in with your wider body of work?

All my images are about space, architecture, urbanism; how one moves and travels through space, experiences spaces, volumes, surfaces, materials and light through the built environment. It’s a framing of parallel realities, an extensive visual and permanent research. My images reflect cities, architectures and places I have been to, as a subjective document related to the world and to reality but which is done with my hand, my eyes and my thinking. There are two important steps in my working method. First, the actual photography then second, the development stage. The way I install my work is usually consciously directed towards a confrontation with the space, not necessarily by presenting individual photographic objects.

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What is your preferred medium for exhibiting your work? Book? Solo show? Group exhibition?

What a question! There are too many different mediums, situations and challenges to answer it simply. A solo show is a beautiful occasion to present one’s work in a particular space. But I also love making books; for the photographic image, it’s a useful itinerary for specific and temporary selections. It is clear to me that, at present, the printed book still plays an important role as an avenue for many forms of photography. Through publications, the print medium allows photography to contextualise itself as a body of work. For me, books function as filters for my ever-growing archive. I read my archive through this temporary perspective that a book can provide. Turning the idea of the archive into a permanently transforming, rich and reflective resource. The space and format of a book allows me to do very different things than in an exhibition space. And a book is bound to its own time and space, it’s mobile, you take it with you wherever you like and read it whenever you like.

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Can you talk to us about your solo show at Leuven’s M Museum? What will you be showing?

The show in Museum M consists of many new works made especially for the exhibition: objects, 16mm films, a slide projection, books and photographs. Ther’e’s also a collective piece, a concept entitled Tokonoma developed by Su an Kinoshita, shown in the space on the second floor. For the scenography I worked together with Kris Kimpe, an architect from Antwerp with whom I’ve been working with for several years.