For the work she created for Neuer Kunstverein Giessen, Padgett furthered her experiments with light, space and memory through the use of a new material and method: She covered the glass windows of the Kunstverein with the photography of a building by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and Alfred Roth in Beirut. Padgett relocates elements of this building that rises on a geography marked by destruction and war into a German town which was itself massively destroyed by heavy bombing during WWII. Through transferring the image of this steel and glass facade onto the windows of this small kiosk made of stone bricks, Padgett suggests the transposition of an unfamiliar memory-scape into one of the busiest streets in Giessen.
“Standard Setting” is an installation that experiments with light and perception. The print is not completely transparent but the viewers might first make use of daylight to see the work from the inner space of the gallery through the windows now completely covered with an unfamiliar image. And as the day wanes, the lights will go on inside the space, which will allow viewers and passers-by to see the gallery space through the work itself, turning the entire Kunstverein into a lightbox. Meanwhile, the photograph-covered windows might soon become part of the urban setting as this is a highly familiar sight for the dwellers of historic towns such as Giessen: reflection of steel and glass structures on the walls of brick and stone buildings have become such a typical urban view. The issue of new construction in historic surroundings has been widely discussed all over the world since the 80s. Many historic cities become more and more abundant in terms of these conflicting urban views which turn out to be the “standard setting” for historic urban environments. Thus, through the transposition of a Beirut facade into a German town through a common appearance, Padgett suggests a shift in our way of perceiving the standard setting that flows before our eyes everyday.
– İlkay Baliç
all images copyright © Laura J. Padgett 2012-2021