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Espen Gleditsch (b. 1983) works with both the limitations of the photographic medium, and the photograph as the origin of various misinterpretations and displacements of meaning. Through image and text, he investigates the dubious role of the photograph as a historical document, and further how a combination of coincidences, unintentional shifts of meaning and human desire characterizes how historical narratives are established and disseminated.


In the project ‘Polymorphous Magical Substance’ Gleditsch explores the way in which posterity has (inaccurately) recorded Functionalist architecture as white, through its documentation in black-and-white photography. In modernism photography and architecture became indistinguishable forces. Photography did not just lend itself to capturing its formal language; it influenced how modern architecture was designed. Historians argue that black and white photography perpetuated the movement’s monochromatic aesthetic. In ‘Polymorphous Magical Substance’ Gleditsch has photographed canonized interiors by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret, Eileen Gray, Jozef Peeters, Arne Korsmo and others with a polaroid camera. He emphasizes the painterly aspects of the architecture through the encounter of light, colour, form and surface. The intimate polaroid format permits no form of retouching or post-production. But nor does it render colours exactly as they are in reality; it creates or imposes its own chromatic scheme.


The photographs form part of a larger exhibition scenography, with the walls of the gallery painted in colours used on buildings from the landmark housing exhibition Weissenhofsiedlung, held in Stuttgart in 1927. In an attempt to reconstruct the official colour scheme of that exhibition, Gleditsch has studied historical archives and collaborated with professional restorative conservators. Once more, however, Gleditsch points to the impossibility of capturing and preserving colour as a stable material. Elements of subjective translation are always embedded in what we perceive as “true” reconstruction or documentary reproduction.

Espen Gleditsch (f. 1983) arbeider med både begrensningene i fotografisk medium og fotografiet som opprinnelse til ulike feilfortolkninger og forskyvninger av betydning. Gjennom bilde og tekst undersøker han den tvilsomme rollen av fotografiet som et historisk dokument, og videre hvordan en kombinasjon av tilfeldigheter, utilsiktede meningsforskjeller og menneskelig lyst karakteriserer hvordan historiske fortellinger etableres og formidles.

** Click on image to view its full size.

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