Individuals – usually the residents of the homes, often Hans Scharoun himself – are captured in photographs of being totally “at home”. They are pictured sitting on a typical curved Scharoun sofa or reading seriously, writing, as well as looking out of large windows, “dwelling” in their thoughts. They never “act”, nor are they affected by any event or activity. They rarely seem to notice the camera; does that make the camera an invisible “observer”? They do not seem “absent”. Their bodies, their gestures, communicate placidity, silence and “presence” all at the same time: concentrating, gathered in thought – and “being in their be-ing”.
While typical architectural photography of modernist homes goes to great lengths to remove the inhabitants from the frame, Scharoun in fact integrates them into the representation of his designs. Furthermore, the photographs are not taken by professionals but rather by colleagues, friends or the residents themselves. These photographs point to the shift in modern architectural design processes where aesthetic techniques no longer reproduce static rules but rather show them as being part of a social practice.
Case study °1 will attempt to use these photographs to excavate the design concept and process of Scharoun. He did not use photography or other media in the initial design phase but employed them as a way to retroactively conceptualise his intentions and disseminate the results. Based on the arrangements created for the photo shoots and the “act” of producing the photographs themselves, Waltraud Indrist argues that Scharoun’s process can be read as performative. The photographs display how the photographer, the residents and even the architect himself inhabit the design, “enacting” a social practice.
To implement Make Yourself a(t) Home Waltraud Indrist will need to do a substantial amount of field work which will be organised into four separate trips. The goal of her field work will be to deepen insight into the archive’s material (primarily the Hans Scharoun Archive, Berlin). The Archive, which administers his entire estate, will help to provide the research content, in particular correspondence between the architect and his “clients” as well as with his photographers. Scharoun concluded nearly every built project with a photo book which compiled the photographs mentioned above. It is of paramount interest to Waltraud Indrist to consider who the photographers were and what their roles were given that intimate friends and colleagues of Scharoun took most of the photographs.
The trips will also provide important opportunities to visit the private houses which are mainly situated in greater Berlin. They will become the site and origin for Waltraud Indrist to execute her performative approach. Schminke house in Löbau and Möller house in Zermützel are both managed by private foundations and provide visiting hours to the public. Although Mattern house and Bader house are in private ownership, contact was already established before Waltraud Indrist visited them for the first time in the summer of 2013.
Each one of her trips trip will allow for re-enactments to take place on site. They will be scheduled so that the findings can be presented, discussed and contextualised at each of the proposed laboratory sessions. The laboratories will create an open-ended practice-oriented platform to reflect upon and advance the work to ultimately culminate into a piece for the exhibition.