Inbox: Walter Niedermayr

Oct 21–Dec 4, 2016


Walter Niedermayr (Italian, born 1952). Bildraum S 240. 2010. Ink-jet prints, each: 41 × 51 1/2 × 2 3/8″ (104.1 × 130.8 × 6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown. © 2016 Walter Niedermayr
  • MoMA, Floor 1, Museum Lobby Museum Lobby

The photographer Walter Niedermayr (Italian, born 1952) explores the intersections between natural and constructed landscapes. Using underexposure and desaturation, he creates surreal, light-washed large-format images that are environmental in effect. Since 2000, he has made an ongoing photographic study of the work of SANAA, the contemporary Japanese architectural firm founded by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa. The triptych Bildraum S 240 features a section of their undulating Rolex Learning Center (2005–10), a student center on the campus of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne).

Taken from within the building, the image emphasizes the structure’s sculpted concrete floor slab. Its rippled form, which is woven across three frames, suggests an artificial landscape. Niedermayr sees in SANAA’s work an affinity with his own, describing the firm’s attention to architecture’s sensorial and experiential effects as “a sort of ambivalence…underlined by the use of glass and transparency. In photography, I too try to defy the limit, that of the visible, of representation.” Cropping the building’s boundaries to give it the impression of floating, Bildraum S 240 underscores the tension between the Rolex Learning Center’s significant feat of structural engineering and its gravity-defying appearance.

Organized by the Department of Architecture and Design.

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