CONSTRUCTIVE UNEASE

František Kowolowski

 

Structural models based on urbanistic ideas, architectures and theories make up an essential part of the work of Gregor Eldarb. He develops hypothetical spaces and forms referencing the constructivist models of

the early twentieth century’s classical avant-gardes. His work can be thought of as an on-going conversation with the ideas underlying both real and utopian concepts of the cityscape. Through drawings, objects and videos he explores his surroundings, ranging from his own apartment to various cities, countries and landscapes, all of which find their respective counterparts in his models.

An important theoretical basis for his work is the book Warped Space. Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture (2000), in which the American architecture critic Anthony Vidler investigates the conditions and causes of the alienation widely experienced in the modern city. According to Vidler, our psychological space is filled with disturbances, including those generated by architecture and the city, which he identifies as the source of various neuroses and phobias. Vidler postulates that these days the forces of secularization exert a permanent pressure on space in such a way as to create a tension between public and private, cultural and purpose-oriented space.

Sigmund Freud, in his famous case study “Little Hans”, was the first to discuss issues of urban planning in connection with the etiology of phobias. In his search for an explanation of his patient’s neuroses, Freud resorted to the use of maps, pictures and detailed descriptions of the patient’s surroundings. In his show

Map-Making Exercises (2008), Gregor Eldarb returned to the story of “Little Hans”, using maps and drawings of the house where “Little Hans” lived, a video that suggests Hans’ fear of horses, as well as the book Opera for the People (1951) by opera producer Herbert Graf – the adult “Little Hans”.

American scientist and fluxus-artist Bern Porter and his fellow American, poet-painter Kenneth Patchen, are two further major reference points in Eldarb’s stimulating dialogue with certain affiliations within the historical avant-gardes.

Large format pictures are another important part of his work, whether he creates drawings of architectural models or sculptures or sets out on experimental searches for forms yielding poly-perspectival spaces unfolding against a black backdrop. The various layers of the drawings constitute mimetic disturbances and irritations intended to instill in the viewer a kind of visual unease. Eldarb aims for a process-oriented analysis of space and form. The specific aesthetics of the technical drawing, the blueprint, playfully suggest the plans’ feasibility.

Gregor Eldarb’s more recent work testifies to an increased interest in the print media. In it, he refers to a system of forms, modes of presentation and concepts, enabling the viewer to draw comparisons and redefine the meanings underlying art, space and mind.