Front view
Inv. No.S-1641


from the series: "Chinoiserie"

C-print (Lambda print, digital)

Dimensions24 x 18 cm

signed on verso


Elisabeth Czihaks snapshots of the variable

If one tries to define urbanity, one of its decisive characteristics is transformation. The state of the urban is its transformability. The history of the city bears witness to the fact that cities are under pressure to change, that cities have to change in order to keep the energy of transformation as an urban dynamic running by producing the ever new city in the existing one.

At the beginning of the 21st century, it is Chinese cities that set the pace in terms of the speed of urbanization. We can see Chinese cities as sensitive and precise seismographs of an unprecedented degree of acceleration of this speed of urbanization, which makes us acutely aware of how the image of the city is changing.

This speed of urban change, of permanent reconstruction, is a challenge that city dwellers must face. The reconstruction of the city leads to new orientations, adjustments and transformations, which have a central influence on the lives of the city's inhabitants.

However, this speed of urban change is also a challenge that the documentation of the history of the city's present must face. The image of the city disappears at every moment of reconstruction. The city in transformation eludes documentation. It disintegrates into moments and fragments, it does not create a coherent, closed, complete image of itself. The image of the city in transformation has no cityscape.

Elisabeth Czihak's photographic documentation of the changeable leads into these complex moments and fragments, which make up the innumerable images of a city in transformation. We understand that we move in the urban, we see fragments of urbanity, but we cannot recognize the cityscape. We see the earth in motion, we see covered plants, we see broken concrete, we see traditional-looking paintings surrounded by informally piled up stones, we see cranes, we see building materials, we see the contrast between what was and what has just been completed, we see a memory of everyday life, we see how difficult it has become to get an idea of the speed of urbanisation. We realize that it takes many such images to get an idea of the fragmentation and fragmentation that the speed of urbanization means for the cityscape.

The built and the changeable are connected by a relationship that is culturally and socially characterized by ambiguity. This relationship is filled with expectations and promises of a better future, conflicts and contradictions, fears and loss of history.

If we reflect on the relationship between the built and the changeability and open up this relationship as a space for imagination, it is precisely this space in which Elisabeth Czihak's snapshots take place. One of the decisive questions that this space of imagination opens up is that of temporality. How can the built and the changeable both be thought of as states with different temporalities, with different demands on temporality and duration? How can we imagine these complex relationships between the built and the changeable in their own specific temporality? In addition to the photographic moments and fragments that Elisabeth Czihak has created to illustrate temporality in the relationships between the built and the changeable, she has added the graphic of an endless line. This refers to an ornament from the traditional Chinese canon of forms and was used in architecture to mark transitions between inside and outside. Elisabeth Czihak breaks up this ornament, traditionally found on windows and doors, always closed, always symmetrical. The line, safe from the history of the ornament, safe from the tradition of Chinese architecture, is in upheaval. It is shifted, no longer closed, temporalized, transformed.
(Elke Krasny)

S-1641, untitled
Elisabeth Czihak, untitled, 2011
S-1641, Front view
© Elisabth Czihak / Bildrecht, Wien
S-1640, Elisabeth Czihak, untitled, 2011
Elisabeth Czihak, untitled, 2011
more infoS-1640, Front view
© Elisabth Czihak / Bildrecht, Wien
S-1642, Elisabeth Czihak, untitled, 2011
Elisabeth Czihak, untitled, 2011
more infoS-1642, Front view
© Elisabth Czihak / Bildrecht, Wien