The exhibition by Berlin-based German photographer Friederike von Rauch is a departure from her usual, primarily monochrome images of everything from industrial estates in Rotterdam to fin-de-siècle Brussels architecture. This new collection in Antwerp’s Fifty One Fine Art Photography gallery sets out to reveal the structural purity of the empty gallery and its lonely artwork.
People hunger for the inside story, be it the details of shady backroom political dealing, scandalous celebrity gossip, or just what some neighbour said about another neighbour’s wallpaper/garden/dog. In the same vein, art-aficionados adore the studio visit, in which they’re offered a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes life of the artist and the art they create. Jill Krementz’s 1999 collection of images from writers’ desks is a perfect example, drawing as it does on this longing to be a part of art in its earliest days of conception, making our bond with the finished piece more intimate.
This urge finds a different expression in the psyche of the exhibition-goer, who fantasises about falling asleep in a gallery and waking up in the middle of the night to wander its empty halls, alone with the art.
Friederike von Rauch’s new project does just this, giving attendees a glimpse into the artwork’s hidden world. Her ongoing series of photographs capture well-known pieces in their undisturbed, after-hours life. It’s the first project of this sort that von Rauch has embarked upon, and the photography remains rooted in a structural focus on the space itself, rather than objects within it. A self-proclaimed sunlight-phobe – “I try to avoid the sun” – the images are also notable for a sparing use of cool-toned colour.
Von Rauch, originally trained as a silversmith, studied industrial design and later worked as a location scout for film. This personal take on behind-the-scenes subjects allows viewers to trade their role as ‘voyeur’ for ‘insider’.