water & architecture : Aubase Gallery

Aub1 Aub2 Aub3 Aub4 Aub5 Aub6 Aub7

Exhibition Text

Lest a false impression be given, Susa Templin does not hate cities. Sure, she resents their strict adherence to linearity and containment, but this does not compel her to move out to the country in search of open spaces. And though her work is informed by a distinctly utopian outlook, she is not seeking total revolution and has no current plans to sabotage skyscrapers or municipal services. On the contrary, she wants to improve upon what is already in place, allowing the urban environment to remain intact, albeit with a few important modifications.
Templin's primary weapon against geometry is water. Liquid counteracts gravity's earthbound hegemony and provides a level of freedom for bodies used to feeling heavy and depleted at the end of the day. Lately Templin has been tooling around Manhattan, attempting to locate the elusive and scarce open-air swimming pools that offer a measure of hope for the metropolis-she refers to them as "negative architecture." She managed to capture a bird's-eye view of one from the high-rise apartment of a friend in the Upper East Side. The close proximity of the pool to FDR Drive was just the corrective she was seeking in answer to the vexing question of how to make urban living more livable. It is in the soothing presence of water that she identifies an alternative means of transportation- imagine the luxury of swimming to work- and a way of mediating the harsh tones of the cityscape.
In order to envision a more healthy public atmosphere, Templin makes use of a highly flexible system of collage, consisting primarily of photographs, simply rendered drawings and brief texts. In recent installations, images and notes of varying size have been taped or pinned directly to the wall, unframed and lacking any pretense of traditional presentation standards. The groupings resemble a studio planning session rather than a finished, well-ordered display of discrete objects. One can ponder them as individual proposals for change, while taken together they form a many-sided look at what life might be like were we less constrained by the trappings of civilization.
Templin manipulates the medium of photography in a distinctly sculptural manner-she cuts and pastes, re-photographs, dismantles and combines in her ongoing quest to tinker with reality. During this multi-phase process the camera becomes less a passive tool for the recording of objects or events than an active element in a broad program of potential transformation. The urge to play and experiment with a given set of materials could thus be seen to reflect a more profound desire to shape the parameters of her existence, to align her formal practice with the need for a more accommodating habitat.
Many of the images were obtained while submerged in water, often shot from an angle that places fragments of the artist's body into the picture. Virtually absent, however, is a glimpse of Templin above the shoulders. Instead, we see portions of torso, flailing arms and foreshortened legs-the perspective is that of a subaqueous world seen through the eyes of the photographer. The emphasis on her physical presence provides the viewer with an invitation to share in Templin's fantasy, to be an accomplice in her vision for a present-day Atlantis.
Gregory Williams
from "Susa Templin - 3 feet 6 inches deep"
Catalog Design by Alex Gloor, New York
Text by Gregory Williams, New York
Images by Susa Templin, New York
Dölling & Galitz Verlag 1999

a joint publication by:
EXPO 2000, Hannover; Aubase Gallery New York and Galerie Cato Jans, Hamburg

ISBN 3-933374-45-6