Museum Brandhorst

Louise Lawler

Since the early 1980s, Louise Lawler has been photographing art - as it is exhibited in museums and private collections, sold in auction houses, stored in warehouses, and restored in museums. Lawler demonstrates that works of art are not self-contained, autonomous objects that we encounter neutrally. Instead, both their meaning and our personal relationship to them change depending on where and in which context they are presented. Lawler reveals not only the concealed ideological content of our aesthetic opinions, but elicits new ‘personality traits’ and stories from the individual works of art, almost as if they had lives of their own.
The newly acquired installation ‘No Drones’ consists of photographs of two paintings by Gerhard Richter (‘Mustang Squadron’ and ‘Skull’). The photographs of the canvases were taken in their current hanging in the recently reopened Albertinum in Dresden - Richter’s birthplace, which was razed to the ground by British and American bombers in four night-time raids in February 1945. Hanging at the centre of Lawler’s installation is a disco ball that swings inches above the ground like a wrecking ball. Every 20 minutes the overhead lighting in the gallery turns off automatically, and is replaced by a light show. The points of light from the disco ball that scatter across the room are complemented by a choreography of green and red lasers, at once evocative of neon advertising as well as laser-guided target-designation technology. Lawler thus taps into a repertoire of images from contemporary history - the haunting night shots of aerial attacks during the Iraq War of 1990/91 which have cast a long shadow on images of conflicts in the media ever since. The piece’s subtle criticism, directed here at a brand of war journalism that increasingly borrows from the tools of the entertainment industry, is reinforced by the memento mori of the skull in ‘Civilian’. The photograph of Gerhard Richter’s painting of the British fighter bombers comes in two forms: as a conventional, framed photographic print and as wallpaper. However, the large-scale vinyl wallpaper print distorts the image to fit the proportions of the wall. These manipulative possibilities of contemporary photography broaden the discourse already found in Richter’s works on the presence and impact of media images in our society - commenting, for example, on how we remember images of the Second World War.

Louise Lawler | Installation view 'No Drones', Sprüth Magers London, November 23 - December 23, 2011
		© Louise Lawler

Louise Lawler | Installation view 'No Drones', Sprüth Magers London, November 23 - December 23, 2011






© Louise Lawler