Vera Lutter ‘Egypt’ @ Gagosian Gallery

Gagosian Gallery in London presents photographs from Vera Lutter’s Egypt series. New York-based artist Lutter turned her suitcase into a pinhole camera, lining it with photosensitive paper. This transformed camera obscura produced material to the dimensions of the improvised device, producing a scale that is much more intimate than in previous series.

Lutter’s Egypt series is as much a record of undisturbed ancient architecture as the scope of restrictions and prohibitions that she encountered. Traveling through Egypt in early 2010, Lutter’s experiences with local laws forbidding photography of these monuments and suspicion of her photographic apparatus guided her to the pyramids and landscapes that she finally chose as her subjects. Largely preserved by national regulations, these timeless and enigmatic monuments, including the Meidum Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid in Dahshur, appear splendidly isolated, devoid of any trace of contemporary life. Lutter also gained rare access to the Kom Ombo Temple, where she captures tourists as barely perceptible specters against the majestic architectural backdrop.

By choosing to retain the negative image as her final printed work, Lutter transforms the visual facts of her chosen environments into scenes reflecting on the twin realities of space and time. This is time-consuming business, requiring long exposures so that the film not only records the outlines of buildings but the ghost-like forms that move in and out of the frame as the clock ticks on. Lutter’s work successfully makes us observe the images of these monuments from a different perspective and investigate them as a doctor would do with a patient’s X-ray while at the same time we can almost feel the aura and the energy echoing from this ancient civilisation.
|Kostas Prapoglou