Aglaia Konrad

Portrait Aglaia Konrad

*1960 (Austria)
education: Jan van Eyck Academie Maastricht
lives and works in Brussels

With her photographs, films, and installations she has been exploring the urban space since the 1990s and documenting the rapidly advancing process of global urbanisation. She highlights the ubiquitous elements of urban life by using seemingly random methods such as capturing the city from the perspective of a moving car or compiling a series of aerial views. The strength is in seriality. Her archive, which includes several thousand images of urban infrastructure or housing, for example, offers an unlimited repository that sheds a good light on the relationship between society and the urban space and humans and their cultures. Her documentary work has a monumental scope and often a denouement (the Il Creto and Carrara projects).

I ♥ Rückbau, 2020

Rück-bau [building back], an obvious euphemism in German for demolition, is brought into relation with the growth of crystals, Kristalle, through the cutting of building or renovation debris into crystalline form and so, consequently, leaving open any questions concerning the material’s original matrix, whether social or geological.

… in which it is told that Cronus ate his four children in fear of their overthrowing him as he had his own father. In vengeance, Cronus’ wife Rhea tricked him into swallowing a huge rock instead of his newborn son Zeus, whom she arranged to be taken to safety. On his return, Zeus killed Cronus by forcing him to vomit up the rock and, with it, his four siblings. Zeus then erected the rock as a monument, and it became the first recorded trace of architecture in the history of mythology and mankind.

In light of this myth about the birth of architecture, RÜCKBAUKRISTALLE [building-back-crystals] can be seen as a reversal-demolition’s puked-out debris giving birth to crystalline form in revenge for architectural violence.

Rück-bau is not just an advocacy of Aglaia´s personal fascination for demolition as a brutal force. Her (photographic) practice dealing with architecture, urban space and infrastructure has sharpened her eye for all its inherent “works” that are associated with planning, building, shaping & de-construction.

The reverse process of demolishing existing architecture requires adequate resources and power. I Love Rückbau is a video shot during the demolition of the BNP Fortis bank in Brussels, but it could have been taken from anywhere, just like the torsos of the buildings we see in the exhibition. The crystalline form of waste is transformed into a new quality and a new value. The artist gives us a glimpse of it thanks to the polished, honed surface of the edges and corners. They mirror and glitter just like the precious primary materials of the primary monuments. Whether ancient temples or modern architecture.  In her rendering they are small monuments of our materialized memory.