Gagosian presents “Turning Time,” an exhibition of eight new photographs by Vera Lutter.
Lutter has created pinhole-camera photographs of architecture, landscapes, cityscapes, and industrial sites since the early 1990s. “Turning Time” comprises two series, one depicting ancient temples in the southern Italian town of Paestum, the other the Effelsberg Radio Telescope at the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomiey in Germany, a radio telescope used for scientific research and recording cosmic activity in outer space. These studies of historical monuments and pivotal technological innovations reflect Lutter’s deep relationship with the forces of time.
At each site, Lutter transformed a standard-size shipping container into a camera obscura, one of the oldest image-capturing technologies, whereby light enters into a dark camera space through a pinhole, projecting an image into the interior onto a sheet of photographic paper. Lutter’s images are large and the exposure times can last hours, weeks, or even months. The projected image inscribes itself as an inverted black-and-white image, making each print a unique object, a negative on paper that cannot be reprinted.
In 2013, Lutter traveled to the Eifel region of Germany to photograph the Effelsberg telescope. One of the largest radio telescopes on Earth, with a diameter of 100 meters, it collects ancient radio waves that have traveled for light years to reach our hemisphere, helping to shape our understanding of planets and activity beyond our own. Over the course of a month, Lutter made a series of compelling black-and-white images of the telescope while the instrument itself was exploring the farthest reaches of our galaxy, searching for information that will inform us about the past and, possibly, the inception of our universe.
Conversely, the ancient site of Greek civilization Paestum, located in southern Italy, includes three temples constructed circa 550 BCE, as tribute to the gods Athena and Neptune. Once again utilizing the shipping container as camera obscura, Lutter photographed the mysterious monuments that radiate their place in history and time with majestic grandeur.
Lutter’s two series that document continuous processes of observation and registration invite us to contemplate a universe that spans thousands of years, and give evidence to simultaneous processes—radio waves being collected from the far reaches of the universe, and light waves being collected by her camera, providing an invitation to look at time itself.
Vera Lutter was born in 1960 in Kaiserslautern, Germany and currently lives and works in New York. Collections include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. Institutional exhibitions include the Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1999–2000); Kunsthalle Basel (2001); Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2002); Kunsthaus Graz, Austria (2004); Dia: Beacon, New York (2005); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2005); Foundation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel (2008); Carré d’art-musée d’art contemporain, Nîmes, France (2012); “Inverted Worlds,” Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2015; traveled to: New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana, 2016); and “This is a Photograph,” Penland Gallery and Visitors Center, North Carolina (2016). Lutter had the honor of receiving the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Grant in 1993, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2001, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2002.
In early 2017, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) announced an artist project and residency with Lutter, taking place from February 2017 through March 2018 and culminating in an exhibition in fall 2018.