To what do we want to bid farewell? What would we like to forget? We often imagine history as a relentless passage of time and that which used to be modernity recedes ever further into a distance in danger of disappearing once and for all. Visions of yesterday that were driven by social enlightenment zeal seem outdated today and are expeditiously dispatched accordingly.
The Tannhauser Gate drawings by Alekos Hofstetter and Florian Göpfert undermine the necessity of a utopian nostalgia as an effective counterpart in the face of a de-radicalization of imagination and, with hefty artistic impudence to boot, they repurpose postwar modern buildings into timeless sites of worship.
In this regard, the installation Høyblokka & Y blokka by Alekos Hofstetter and Florian Göpfert in the LAURA MARS GALLERY Berlin references the debate about the consequences of urban planning after the attacks on the office building of the Norwegian Prime Minister in 2011 in Oslo and reframes the current, often controversial question of what the future of the heavily damaged building should be now. The inaugural installation, consisting of nine drawings in various formats and in mixed media (including ink, permanent marker, and colored pencils), examines the relationship between trauma and architecture in times of upheaval.
The Norwegian architect Erling Viksjø hoped that his architecture and construction of Høyblokka (1958) and Y-blokka (1969) in the Oslo government district would do justice to a new normative social-democratic design of society. Exactly this claim, associated with modern post-war architecture, is now increasingly perceived as an aesthetic burden and is therefore dismissed as a social-romantic fantasy—or even chosen as a direct target for attack, as happened in 2011. Moreover, the dispute whether such initial ideals were ever even realized, is only now finally underway. Thus Hofstetter and Göpfert offer an important contribution to the long overdue debate around social aesthetics in light of the desolation that will follow the progressive displacement of modernity.
Daniel H. Wild