Robert Polidori @ CWC GALLERY, March 29th, 2012

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Feudal splendour and colourful patina – Robert Polidori’s search for vestiges of the past in the Palace of Versailles, the Kremlin and Havanna

The comprehensive exhibition will allow for an in-depth look into Robert Polidori’s impressive oeuvre. Fascinating photographs of the Palace of Versailles, the Kremlin and the Cuban capital Havanna will be presented next to selected works from the series »Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl« and »After the Flood« with photographs from New Orleans after hurricane »Katrina«. In addition to these series, the exhibition will feature selected architectural photographs by Robert Polidori from New York, Los Angeles and Berlin.

The focus of the exhibition is on Polidori’s extensive photographic documentation of the rebuilding and restauration of the Palace of Versailles which he followed for over 25 years. The magnificent rooms, the elaborate renovation work on the palace during the 1980s and the portraits of noblemen and -women in golden frames that constitute Polidori’s subjects give the viewer an idea of the past of this historic place, conserving it meticulously. At the same time, history coalesces with the present and allows for a new aesthetic experience of this lavishly adorned, regally decorated and yet forgotten world. The fractals of his photographs, moreover in the paintings, make the work even brighter.

Gold embellishments, polished wood inlays and glittering chandeliers as far as the eye can see characterize Polidori’s photographs of the Kremlin in Moscow, which used to be the home of the of czars and other rulers and is the seat of the Russian government again today. These complex, quiet images complete the circle between yesterday and today.

The ravages of time are also evident in Polidori’s photographs from Havanna. They depict crumbling, flaking, cracking structures, while simultaneously fascinating the viewer with their brilliant, rich colours and contrasts.

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Traces of history in Robert Polidori’s architectural photography

Polidori’s photographs are distinguished by their graceful silence, their precise aesthetic composition and their colourful complexity and power. Though printed in very large formats, the images do not sacrifice their accuracy of detail, which allows the viewer to almost sense the structure of shapes and surfaces through his eyes: the complex photographs let us experience the pictured spaces in a new way.

The point of contact between old and new is a recurring motive in Polidori’s work. The rooms that he photographs, although completey void of any human presence, tell their manifold stories through their unique patina and their palatial splendour. In 2009, he photographed the »Neues Museum« in Berlin, which was elaborately restored and redesigned by British architect David Chipperfield, adding new features to the old structures while deliberately conserving those parts in which the ravages of time were clearly visible.

Polidori’s testimony to destruction: Nuclear exclusion zones and natural disasters

In his work, Robert Polidori also documents the often devastating effects of human interference with the environment, as he did in his photo series about the nuclear reactor disaster in Chernobyl. He has also portrayed the disastrous damage done to the city of New Orleans by hurricane »Katrina« in 2005. Selected works from both series will be presented in the exhibition. Polidori, portraying not only the palaces of the world, but also scenes of destruction and tragedy, thus uses architectural photography as a means to make the recipient think about the pictured places in a different way. His photographs of the Hotel Ambassador in Los Angeles, one of which will be shown in the exhibition, can be read in a similar way. The hotel won notoriety when it became the scene of the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968. It was torn down in 2005.

Polidori’s substantial oeuvre has also been featued in several publications, among others the three-volume photo book »Parcours Muséologique Revisité« with the monumental photographic documentation of the Palace of Versailles, which was awarded the Liliane Bettencourt Prix de la Photographie. 

Four rooms, 500 m2 exhibition space, CWC  (CAMERA WORK CONTEMPORARY) GALLERY is the second gallery in a Berlin building that is steeped in history: the Ehemalige Jüdische Mädchenschule Berlin (former Jewish girls’ school). The construction by architect Alexander Beer was finished in 1928, its facade combining features of late expressionism and New Objectivity. CWC GALLERY, in keeping with the name CAMERA WORK CONTEMPORARY, will show contemporary positions in photography, painting and sculpture in comprehensive retrospectives, conceptual group exhibitions or cooperations with private collectors and art institutions. The elegance and purism visible on the outside of the building are mirrored in the four spacious, well-lit rooms on the first floor as well as in the generous hallways of the CWC GALLERY. A reduced, stylish design, a sophisticated arrangement and a clear language of form produce a unique atmosphere, in which the ample spaces take full effect in allowing the visitor to enjoy an exceptional experience of reception.

February 10 – April 21, 2012

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