Cover image of the review

Andrea Grützner: Tanztee and Erbgericht

17 Jun 2017
9 Jun - 23 Jul 2017

Writing in Artforum in 2004, Abigail Solomon-Godeau described the ‘miniature guillotine’ of the camera’s shutter. The camera slices a moment in time from the world, removing it from its original context, but also potentially relaunching it as a new, transformed event. In Andrea Grützner’s current exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, the German artist has focused her photographic attention on a historic guesthouse in Saxony, in the old East Germany. She expertly uses and exploits the click of the shutter to create two series of works that transform the building’s spaces and activities into striking abstract compositions. Yet in doing so, Grützner also reflects and adds to the complex layers of memory, history and ongoing lived experience that permeate this building.

The ‘Erbgericht’ guesthouse, built in the late nineteenth century, has held a longstanding fascination for Grützner. An important cultural centre for the rural community, it also embodies broader historical narratives that persist in contemporary Germany. Cultural theorist Andreas Huyssen influentially wrote about the palimpsestic-like nature of contemporary Berlin (and post-War, post-unification Germany more broadly), which is defined by complex layers of absences and presences, voids and remains. The guesthouse in Saxony reflects such complex relations, particularly its history during the period of the German Democratic Republic. While the guesthouse did not come under direct control of the state, as many buildings did, the GDR did enforce certain aesthetic impositions. This included overpainting certain architectural elements of the building – producing quite literal layers of history, memory and forgetting.

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