In their exhibition Res Publica at the Loris Gallery, Berlin based artists Ruth Hommelsheim and Ulrike Ludwig showed their latest work, which refers to the old and new building on Schlossplatz in Berlin. The demolition of the Palace of the Republic (Palast der Republik) and the reconstruction of the City Palace (Stadtschloss) have been the topic of public debate for years and thus become res publica, a public affair.
Ruth Hommelsheim photographed the dismantling of the Palace of the Republic between 2006 and 2008. Now serving as raw material, the background in each image is painted over with white acrylic paint. In doing so, the artist continues with the method she first adopted in her last series Versammlungen, this time with a fresh subject. Whereas in Versammlungen groups of people were stripped of their context, which was painted over, and left heavily accentuated, here Hommelsheim explores the changes that emerge when the surrounds of the building are levelled by painting them over, and the remains laid bare in the process. Although we can surmise the urban context, heightening the rawness and materiality of the dismantling process seems to distort this contextual relationship, conjuring up new associations and raising questions about things that matter to us.
Ulrike Ludwig`s Raumbuch (room book) is a ten-volume anthology of contemporary architecture. Ludwig dissects the ground plans of various buildings by removing each room from its context and presenting all of them on individual pages by means of an animation programme commonly used by architects. The result is ten catalogues and wall mounts that show the orthogonal room as the unit and basis of all the buildings examined. A solid pattern and a recurrent symbol, the right angle is etched into the field of architecture.
The Berlin City Palace is deliberately set at the beginning of the room books. No other building in the series is so entrenched with history. Although it exists in the planning stage only, it creates a vision. Apart from the City Palace, Ludwig’s investigation includes a school, a residential building, an office building, a supermarket and a library.