Zone Grise / The land in Between
At the MEP since 4 December, the first major retrospective dedicated to Ursula Schultz-Dornburg, is as impressive in its magnitude (250 images are presented), as the silent quietness that emanates, engaging the visitor in an applied observation, to an inescapable reflection on the relationship between the environment and buildings.
With this rigorous and almost scientific approach that one would be tempted to bring closer to the protocols of the Düsseldorf school, the German photographer documented for fifty years the transformation of the landscapes related to the impact of the man and the geopolitical events.
Contrary to the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher on the other hand, who in the 1960s focused on immortalizing the endangered industrial sites, the photographer seems here to highlight, in a minimalist approach, what survives the man, the persistent traces beyond the social conflicts, the political and cultural vagaries of humanity.
Thus time plays a major role in the images of Ursula Schultz-Donrburg. He paces the exhibition organized and scenographed by the artist herself.
From Iraq, Mesopotamia, and Syria, she reports uncompromising documentary work on the borders and remains of the cradle of civilization.
From a more recent trip to Armenia, she comes back with an unusual series of bus shelters inherited from the country’s Soviet past, and now abandoned. They survived the architectural ideology of their creators. “This is how their form, sometimes quite original or absurd, is obvious,” says the photographer.
Finally, the geometry of nuclear sites abandoned in the former Soviet Union illustrates with paradoxical poetry, the environmental degradation related to the political past.
Far from a simple documentary work, Ursula Schultz-Dornuburg’s work is the fruit of a decades-long reflection on the time, cycles and declines seen through the prism of architecture. Its minimalist and conceptual aesthetic, its technical precision and its careful scenography make this exhibition a testimony of a very unique sensitivity.
From December 4, 2019 to February 16, 2020
Maison Européenne de la Photographie
5/7, rue de Fourcy
75 004 Paris