Absent Architecture

René Fahrni and Dominik His 

30 June - 18 July 2012 

Curated by Anca Sinpalean 

Opening hours: Mo 10 - 5 pm, Wed and Fr 4 - 7 pm



“[The] most basic things architecture consists of: material, construction, carrying and being carried, earth and heaven - and trust in spaces that may truly be real.” (Peter Zumthor, DU 5 - 1992, p. 68)

“What architectural element(s) inspire you as an artist?” This was the question addressed to René Fahrni and Dominik His at the beginning of this project. The first artist responded with works that challenge our spatial perception and experimented with the horizontal plane as essential to any built structure. The latter imagined an absurd architecture in the absence of a coherent plan and functionality. They both ended up working in the realm of what we can call “absent architecture”, imagining architecturally “incorrect” structures to the point of dislocating them all together and reducing them to a mark in the sand. 

For the “Absent Architecture” project René Fahrni created  two sand works, a video and a wooden object, exhibited next to a previous painting from 2009. The sand works deal with the horizontal plane as the premise for any architecture and a sign of the human presence in nature. In these works the horizontal surfaces look like cuts in nature’s skin, on top of which we erect our built structures. The thematic nature versus human intervention/architecture reappears in the video entitled “Shutters”. The work entitled “Cube” deals with our spatial perception, while the small size painting “Maze” shows how lost we often feel in architectural spaces that are not “truly real”, to quote Peter Zumthor.

Dominik His created three works that complement each other. The first two resemble models of two unfinished buildings, with walls that have no justification or function. The other work is a hollow metallic structure resembling an impossible pipe system - a product of the imagination. The models refer to the heaviness of the matter, the other work refers to the abstract field of imagination and virtuality - two poles which define the architectural process: pendulating back and forth between them - this is how architecture is being created.

Why invite artists to think about architecture, do you ask? The advantage of their different view on architecture is to free us from the formal clichés in which architecture often imprisons us. We might discover something fresh in these “architecturally incorrect” models and artistic experiments, which work with the basic spatial elements like the horizontal plane or the wall and with basic architectural notions like matter and idea, heavy and light, earth and heaven, carrying and being carried.

Anca Sinpalean