Light Reading’s ninth series continues with a dialogue between artist Bernd Behr and writer and critic Brian Dillon. The event will include Behr discussing his current project Weimar Villa, as well as screening his recent works Hotel Palindrome (2006) and House Without a Door (2006).
Behr’s work is produced at the investigative intersection between art and architecture, and more precisely on the instances and possibilities of architectural performativity in the moving image. Behr’s new work in progress, Weimar Villa, addresses notions of an archaeology of modernity and the archeologically modern in relation to the Bauhaus. Spanning locations in China and Germany, the film conflates the construction site of a Bauhaus-themed luxury suburb on the outskirts of Shanghai with the recently exhumed ruin of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s house, originally part of Walter Gropius’ row of prototype ‘Master Houses’ in Dessau. The project follows his exploration of the spatial conditions of a 1972 lecture by Robert Smithson in Hotel Palindrome (2006), and House Without a Door (2006) which collapses a WWII US military test site with 1920s Expressionist Film.
Behr’s work can often be seen to employ a method of lateral investigation; in place of neutral documentary, the camera performs the archeological act, examining architectural topographies of the 20th Century and their social implications. In Behr’s practice, the research process infiltrates the perception of the work as a finished product, enabling it to actively question the production of knowledge with regards to its subject. In this way, Behr’s work simultaneously performs a subtle operation of current investigation and retrospective consideration, creating work that performs contemporaneously not only through its medium of video, but also acts as a proposition for potential re-engagement with the ruins and/or failures of its subjects.
Bernd Behr lives and works in London and has exhibited in numerous solo and group projects in the UK and internationally. Recent solo projects include “House Without a Door” at High Desert Test Sites, California, USA, 2008, e-raum, Cologne, Germany, 2007 and Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2006. Group exhibitions and screenings include Württemburgischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany, 2009, Blancpain Contemporary Art, Geneva, Switzerland 2008, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, 2007, Chelsea Space, London, 2007, European Kunsthalle, Cologne, Germany, 2006 and Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, 2005.
Brian Dillon is UK Editor of Cabinet magazine and AHRC Research Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Kent. He writes regularly for Frieze, Art Review, Modern Painters, the Guardian, the London Review of Books and the Wire. He is the author of a memoir, In the Dark Room (Penguin, 2005) and his Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives will be published in September 2009.