The Garage at Kunst Haus Wien, renowned for its express interest in and critical
approach to pressing ecological issues, presents Lina Selander’s Shadow Optics.
The title of the exhibition references an extreme light, as if inverted, exposing
darkness as well as light; a no less a photographic event than the atomic bomb over
Hiroshima, inscribing shadows on the surface of the city. Curated by Basak Senova,
the exhibition assembles a group of works and documents describing a migration
between utopia and collapse, where technological and/or ideological development as
generators of energy and destruction are inescapably linked.
Selander’s films and installations can be read as compositions or thought models
where ideas and conditions are explored and weighed. She examines relationships
between memory and perception, photography and film, language and image. The
precise, rhythmic editing and the use of sound in her films create their own
characteristic tension and temporality. Shadow Optics explores the different
possibilities of the material; re-searching, re-visiting, and re-editing intersected
aspects and resources of film, photography, objects, motives and ideas by tracking
and deploying a distinctive visual language in the paradoxical light that bridges the
dichotomy between the visible and the invisible.
The exhibition is comprised of Lenins Lamp Glows in the Peasant’s Hut (2011), with
a vitrine consisting of radiographs and a stainless-steel text plaque; Model of
Continuation (2013); and Överföringsdiagram nr 2 [Diagram of Transfer No. 2] (2018-
Lenins Lamp Glows in the Peasants Hut (2011) is made partly in dialogue with
DzigaVertov’s film The Eleventh Year from 1928, about the construction of a
hydroelectric plant on the Dnieper, juxtaposing it with contemporary footage from
nearby Pripyat, a ghost town since the Chernobyl disaster. Images from the Swedish
Museum of Natural History and the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev, among other places,
are also included, with samples of fossils — the earliest imprints documenting
Radiographs displayed in a vitrine mark the striking similarity between fossils, early
photography and the discovery of radioactivity, which, in turn, seems to herald the
invisibility inherent in the code of digital photography.
The steel plaque that reflects the moving images as well as the surrounding space
also constitutes a map or diagram of the work. Deriving from the makeup of a
documentary — a “ground level” index of sources and narrative, intersecting mine
shafts open and form a network of intersecting tunnels, linking disparate phenomena
and images, archaeologically piecing together fragments into a narrative.
Model of Continuation re-visits Selander’s earlier work To the Vision Machine (2013)
and brings together the material filmed in Hiroshima, images from the atomic
bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki intersected with the images of machineries
and artifacts from a museum of natural history. The work screens a film within a film
by shifting the perspective and the cognizance of the audience with the play between
the presence and the absence of the camera. Selander follows the idea of where the
illusion begins in the simple fact of images, much like the illusion created by
radioactivity or leakage between layers and the different layers of time that can be
perceived in the images of vegetation and the sporadic work outside the window, the
room, the studio environment, the lonely plants.
The new film, Överföringsdiagram nr 2 [Diagram of Transfer No. 2], (2018-2019), which also
features original footage from Austria, is a commentary as well as a continuation of
some of the crucial aspects of the other works in the exhibition, and more
importantly, an attempt to reach a decisive, radical materialization. In a modest but
straightforward manner, the film presents the bad taste of most, if not all, forms of
human exceptionalism, seemingly innocent anthropomorphism, and the related ideas
about nature, art and the sublime.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a book edited by Basak Senova that discusses the
ideological, political, ecological, aesthetic and methodological aspects of the project
will be launched at the opening of the exhibition. The book includes essays by Elke
Krasny, Björn Norberg, Basak Senova, Betina Leidl, and Verena Kaspar. It will also
feature an extensive interview with Lina Salender. Both the exhibition and the book
are generously supported by Iaspis.