Lina Kim - Rooms

September 4 - 29 2007

History has written itself into these dilapidated rooms, traces of human life, could it be the destruction of war or just the disregard of real estate investors. Lina Kim seeks emptiness and quiet in the gutted buildings she finds. A proscenium that needs no actors, each place links the interior and exterior through its perspective. Armed with a middle format camera and tripod, Lina Kim enters the empty rooms, and waits with the exposure until the natural light fills the interior with an immaterial volume, and photographs at eye level across the room along a central axis. In some of her photos we discover things like cables, fire extinguishers, metal cabinets. Closet doors ajar reveal emptied insides, becoming in turn their own codes of absence.

Nothing is arranged here, the only thing staged is the cameras eye. The images fulfill the traditional commitment to reality by the photographic medium. Lina Kim pictures abandoned Russian barracks south of Berlin in what used to be East Germany. Beyond her conventional gaze into and through these rooms lies a complex approach to her content, an intellectual rigor in confrontation with the forces of civilization that is the fundament of her multimedially orientated work.

Lina Kim archives empty rooms that have been abandoned to time. She bores into the intimacy of the architectonic and then steers our gaze over the window again to the outside. While the interior is reduced to its elemental function, outside the vegetation grows wild. The photographic interiors were realized throughout the seasons over the course of three years, between 2003 und 2006. The near absolute emptiness of the rooms obscures the specific role they may once have played, but Kims formal discipline brings a conceptual order into the chaos of the spatial vacancy.

The fleeting memory of time past flashes across the pictures, again and again. For Kim, it is not about the comparison of the before and after; still, beyond the timelessness and placelessness of the images the past still reveals itself within the rooms, especially on the walls like layers of time.

With her camera, Kim takes us into the rooms and behind the scenes of a past military presence, perceiving social phenomena that would otherwise go unchecked. Her eye turns to spaces of intimacy and their transformation, to new uses or non-use of urban or architectonic structures, also elsewhere, like in Niemeyers Brasilia or Le Corbusiers Chandigarh.

Here as there, the authentic exists in a preexisting state, which under the gaze of our inner eye can transform into the illusion of a film set. But the actors have long quit the stage, the game is over. The artist creates the backdrop for a piece scripted by world politics and whose protagonists have abandoned ship. Lina Kims series between documentation and concept, between distance and proximity, between yesterday and today manages to keep a memory of places and their occupants alive, making along the way a symbolic nod to the withering of the eastern Germany. The photographs of the Brazilian artist are a scrutiny of society, her subjects the phantoms of abandoned rooms.

Matthias Harder