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Paris … (Installation)

Julian Rosefeldt / Piero Steinle, ParisThe Unknown Cathedrals, 1997
Installation view, Paris – Les Cathédrales Inconnues, Espace des Blancs Manteaux, Paris, July–August 1997
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Julian Rosefeldt / Piero Steinle
Paris – The Unknown Cathedrals
Photo installation, panoramic 180° screen, 8 slide projectors
Projected b/w photographs, sound

For the photo series Paris – The Unknown Cathedrals (1997), Julian Rosefeldt and his former artist-partner Piero Steinle applied the same method they had already employed for Munich – The Unknown Cathedrals (1995) to Paris. Just like Munich, the French capital is characterised by popular urban emblems and perfect-looking facades. The unknown spaces revealed by the artists can be understood as their counterparts and show the city behind the scenes.

The artists acted as explorers of fundamental underlying structures, or detectives on the trail of the invisible but powerful. The photos display hidden industrial and post-industrial sites in present-day Paris. Largely unknown to the public and accessible only to their users, these spaces were located by evaluating aerial photographs and, in the case of underground areas, by a detailed functional analysis of the urban fabric. As a counterpart to popular urban emblems and the perfect-looking facades, Rosefeldt and Steinle intended to show Paris ‘behind the scenes’. Confronting the tendency nowadays to minimise space, while at the same time using it to the highest possible level of effectiveness, the big empty halls embody an antithesis to actual trends in architecture.

The 180° images, shot in series with a special camera, are projected onto a semi-cylindrical wall in the style of painted nineteenth-century panoramas (ancestors of the cinema). The sense of space is enhanced by the original ambient sound that accompanies the projection and was recorded at the respective sites.

Summarised from Stefan Berg and Katerina Gregos, in: Julian Rosefeldt: Film Works (2008)

Exhibition / Catalogue

Paris – Les Cathédrales Inconnues, Espace des Blancs Manteaux, Paris, July–August 1997 (curated by Julian Rosefeldt, Piero Steinle; catalogue)

Photo Works / Paris – The Unknown Cathedrals, 1997 / Paris … (Installation)