We were invited to make a project for the Lisbon Architecture Triennale this September. The Triennale is responding to a shifting economic and social climate in Europe and are interested exploring issues, narratives and structure around building, architecture as "a living, social and artistic force, charting cultural, political, scientific and aesthetic territories" under the title of "Close, Closer". In Lisbon everyone is indeed in close proximity. The juxtapositions of spaces folding and flourishing in such close range is striking. Desolation and restoration are occurring simultaneously.
Amidst the EU financial crisis these images question how independent one space is of another, using reflections as permeable membranes between opposite conditions.
Vis-à-vis captures this literally and aesthetically, recording palimpsests that encourage more than one reading.
We begin with the provisional assumption that wheeled travelers fall quite neatly into two mutually exclusive categories: Roadtrippers and Campers. Roadtrippers experience their sojourns virtually through the mediating frame of the windshield, safe within a metaphoric (and largely illusory) bubble of interiority. They are akin to the subjects of cinema. Campers yearn for the nitty gritty details of contact. They position themselves on the front lines, negotiating locality and globality. Camping for the photographers Klaus Knoll and Cella constitutes what Gilles Deleuze might have called a "happy deterritorialization". Claire Daigle, San Francisco Art Institute
There are many reasons people, ourselves included camp. Freedom of movement, interaction with nature, nostalgia, escape, peace and quiet, homelessness, exhibitionism, voyeurism, cheap accommodations, a base, a place to play house, a place to hold social events, a way to test survival skills, a place to come back to. We guess we camp for all of these reasons. But our reasons for photographing these site stems mainly from curiosity about our neighbors. Underlying all this movement is a longing for home. Camping is a way to see how other people do it: make home, even if they are artificial, staged and/or idealizations.
Most of the camping has taken place in Italy. Italians tend to turn their living rooms inside out for the summer, carting their furniture and televisions to a more natural setting for the sake of cool breezes and card games. Especially southern campers, tend to walk around in their bathrobes, order in pizzas or cook and wash dishes in communal areas, hang around the ubiquitous espresso bar and just hang out. We are therefore in their living rooms. It's an intimate affair. Everyone is watching everyone to see how they have set things up, what they are having for dinner, what kind of equipment they have, etc.
Northern campers in France tended to come to the same spot each year to a community they didn't feel they had at home. In Germany we found couples who never camped the same place twice, for whom camping meant perfecting the art of making home away from home. Home as a kind of set with all the latest and most efficient paraphernalia.
We spoke with a new couple having a dress rehearsal before a marriage which would include children from previous marriages, several loners who seem to enjoy a certain distant company returning to permanent "summer camps" each year and a couple tent camping across Europe on a Harley.
European camping differs greatly from North American camping, due to variations in vacation time, four to six weeks versus two respectively and size. Natural settings are sparser in Europe where campsites can consist of parking lot spaces next to bodies of water. American campsites are traditionally defined by a picnic table surrounded by trees.
REFLECTING the impact of globalization and cultural fusion on personal circumstance, "About Place" deals with displacement, liminality and cultural identity in the lives of collaborating artists Klaus Knoll and Cella, neither refugees nor migrants or expatriats, rootless all the same. Like many of their projects, "About Place" shares an attention to the built environment, specifically to temporary architecture and ideas about the use of space. CELLA: These images diary a preoccupation with home. Creating a camera obscura out of places I have lived temporarily or imagined living is in a/my sense the embodiment of a place, a room (a sort of outer skin). The act of creating a camera obscura is a way of bringing that which is outside inside (a kind of internalizing which is not dissimilar to a plant digging its roots). The "live" rooms nurture a desire to belong where I am, a kind of non-material home and the photographs document these acts.
KLAUS: We don't have the same word: Cella's "home" is not congruent with my "Heimat". She is envious for something I lost long ago. We each form our own idea of the term, talking of roots and other subterranean intentions. Some experiences are still comparable, beyond all boundaries of culture and language: exile, being without a home, her early hunger for and my old hatred of normality. Home/Heimat is the focal point of this work, in fantasy as well as the one felt painfully missing. The play with projections speaks of deception, vision and the flowing boundaries between them. The melding of interior and outer world, the mutual permeation of normally separated spaces is not without a certain erotic component.
PROCESS: In apartments, houses, hotel rooms and other places we have stayed in we blacken the rooms with tarp and tape, then allow sketchy ambient light to seep through, illuminating the interior without losing the upside down exterior projection created by a single small hole, transforming the room into a giant camera obscura. We then photograph the rooms with a 4x5 or 8x10 camera for anywhere between four hours and a week.
Hale Wehe, two lofts and a house designed for Klaus Knoll, Honolulu, Oahu, completed 2015.