Manuel Graf, Let music play?, 2012, Zweikanal Videoprojektion, Dauer: 20:00 min, Still, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin.

Manuel Graf's Study of How Humans Live in Three Different Architectures

Manuel Graf, Let music play?, 2012, Zweikanal Videoprojektion, Dauer: 20:00 min, Wasserbecken, Installation view, Kunstverein Hamburg, 2012, Photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin.

Manuel Graf, Let music play?, 2012, Zweikanal Videoprojektion, Dauer: 20:00 min, Wasserbecken, Installation view, Kunstverein Hamburg, 2012, Photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin.

Manuel Graf, Neolithic Memory Stick, 2012, Videoprojektion, Dauer: 5:30 min, Installation view, Kunstverein Hamburg, 2012, Photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin.

 

Der Kunstverein
Klosterwall 23
+ 49 (0)40 32 21 57
Hamburg
Manuel Graf
Ils sont fous ces Romains!

September 15-December 2, 2012

Architecture is everything that surrounds us, all that we live in, and all that shelters us. Despite this, it is generally seen as a specialist field, dealt with mainly by qualified architects and architectural theorists. This standoffish relationship runs counter to the crucial role architecture plays in our daily lives. Manuel Graf, who studied sculpture at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, has consistently refused to confine himself to any such limitations or pigeonholing in his work. Architecture is a frequently reoccurring theme in his art — not from a practical design perspective, but rather in the way he expresses an interest in examining and experiencing objects. This general understanding of “objects” comprises their physical properties, but also their social and cultural connotations. If we follow Heidegger, we see that it is precisely by accurately observing this variety of elements and aspects that we define an object and grasp its significance in the first place. To support this understanding, Graf incorporates widely varying fields of knowledge into his work, employing scientific methods, then switching back to a subjective narrative, before finishing with hand-worked or digital animations that allow him to incorporate perspectives one might not otherwise have thought of.

Graf’s current project explores the idea that there are three basic types of architectural arrangement. The first type is a longitudinal arrangement along the length of the building, the second is focused around a central point, and the third is decentralised architecture, where the central point is rendered insignificant. The first two types have been relatively widespread since antiquity, particularly in religious buildings, but the third has primarily been characterised by one specific example: the four-iwan mosque. This type of mosque has a largely empty inner courtyard, whose central point is often not discernible and which is surrounded on four sides by a walled structure known as an iwan. The iwan has a large portal, behind which the actual small, domed rooms almost disappear. While in the two other types of architecture, the “inhabitant” is provided with and guided towards a clear focus, decentralised architecture is based on entirely different premises.

Taking the particular architectural form of the four-iwan mosque as his starting point, and using the Imam Mosque in Isfahan as an example, Graf is currently channelling his years of research into this type of construction into a film project. Wolfgang Meisenheimer, an architect and former lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, is a proponent of the concept of Leibesarchitektur, or “architecture of the body”, which he does not just incorporate into his buildings, but into his books, too. Ulya Vogt-Göknil is an expert in Islamic architecture and has written incisive works on the subject. Graf plans to interview both of them, each in their own film, and then to make a third film of live footage and animation depicting the architecture of a four-iwan mosque. All three films will examine how architecture is experienced and will explore the relationship between human beings and architecture and how people physically inhabit a structure.

For each of his exhibitions, Graf develops a specific form of presentation, based on the content of the respective project. In some he has used sails and special pedestals to place sculptures, photographs and films within a shared context, while in others he has created installation elements — for example, in Ping-Pong (2005) — which closely link sculpture and animation. Kunstverein Hamburg will therefore not be exhibiting Graf’s work in a “black box”; instead, the different elements — film, posters, sculpture and photographs — will be brought together in a composition where the interconnections between the whole are apparent.

Graf often develops his films and objects through models, exploring the principals involved in their arrangement and their effects on our thinking. In Ping-Pong, for example, he took a fresh look at Friedrich Kiesler’s Endless House, constructing a model that he also animated through technological means. Another recurring aspect in his work is a concept of time that contrasts with the idea of a linear chronology, with time marching forward towards a point in the future. The Four-Iwan project, with its focus on decentralised architecture, is an extension of this line of inquiry.

Manuel Graf, Let music play?, 2012, Zweikanal Videoprojektion, Dauer: 20:00 min, Still, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin.

Manuel Graf, Let music play?, 2012, Zweikanal Videoprojektion, Dauer: 20:00 min, Still, Courtesy Van Horn, Düsseldorf und Johann König, Berlin.