With her eye on the watch in the city, Deidi von Schaewen collects fragments, torn walls, erased paintings, hidden monuments… The artist spots and records powerful scaffolding or immense tarpaulins which form ephemeral sculptures with a tenfold presence, intriguing.
Photography is also a tool to underline the bizarre, to reveal the strangeness of reality … Everything that makes you dream, or that could worry, in the ordinary decor of our urban lives.
One day, in 1965, in Barcelona, she was seized by the vision of a department store, the Corte Anglès de la plaza de Catalunya, which… disappeared: completely covered, wrapped, monumentalized. This aesthetic shock marks the start of the second series of photos, after the walls.
Like ready-made, these buildings draped in a canvas silhouette or clad in metal armor catch her artist’s eye. Those whom the poet André Breton calls “monuments to the hidden”, buildings that tarpaulins and scaffolding temporarily conceal from our view. They then stand under the grave and moving mask of moiré, colored, luminous nets. They invite the passer-by to an ironic and scholarly trompe l’oeil meditation.
In the preface to the book Echafaudages (Editions Hazan, 1992) which will give an account of this long-term work, Dominique Baqué, art historian, specialist in plastic photography, recalls the role of chance among the surrealists. She recalls how “André Breton called on visual artists not to be trapped in the enclosure of their practice, but to face the wind of the street”. “What is at stake, writes Dominique Baqué, in urban wandering and the object found, is the realization that the world is a network of signs, numbers, signals arousing incredible complicity”.
Dominique Baqué recalls a conversation between the painter Pierre Alechinsky and André Breton, where they mentioned the idea of photographing these covered Parisian buildings, which Deidi von Schaewen did not learn until twenty years later from Pierre Alechinsky.
Deidi von Schaewen is the visual chronicle of the urban universe, with a penchant for the ephemeral, collage, the unexpected, ordinary buildings become sumptuous theaters of color, moiré and reflections. Reality is not one, but multiple.
Traveling around the world for books and newspapers, she “collects” … New hidden objects appeared: series of tarpaulin cars, mainly in Egypt, motorcycles in India and elsewhere, bicycles, children’s games, nets fishing bundled during the monsoon on Madras beach, trees in Japan and India, statues from Berlin to Bombay and Colombia, and “dams” in gutters in Paris …
Lost property, but not stolen property…
The alert eye, the quick reflex, ready to surprise what is moving in the universe of the inanimate, she “catches” the neglected signs of the urban scenography, the precarious lifestyles, the impromptu sequences which form a whole coherent of captivating images.
Deidi von Schaewen exhibition // Text by Michèle Champenois
Kunsthalle de Bratislava
Námestie SNP 12, 811 06 Bratislava, Slovakia
November 22, 2019 to February 16, 2020