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Magical realism

The exhibition titled “Architecture and Landscape in Norway” by photographer Ken Schluchtmann captures contemporary architecture and natural landscapes.

The exhibition “Architecture and Landscape in Norway”, October 5, 2018, to January 17, 2019, in the Felleshus of the Nordic Embassies in Berlin shows a selection of photographs taken by Ken Schluchtmann at the intersection between contemporary architecture and landscape along the National Scenic Routes in Norway. The National Scenic Routes, initiated in 1994, consist of 18 selected roads that run along the coasts and fjords, and over the mountains and plains in Norway. By 2024 there will be almost 250 rest areas and viewpoints created by some 60 architectural firms, landscaping firms, designers and artists.

Ken Schluchtmann (1970) is a German architectural and commercial photographer. In 2001 he founded his agency in Berlin, which works for designers and large companies mainly in Europe, Asia and North America.

He has won several international awards, including the Arcaid Images Photography Award (World Architecture Festival) twice. His photographs have been exhibited internationally.

In addition to his commercial work, he is also involved in several freelance projects. “Architecture and Landscape in Norway” is his personal engagement with Norway. His pictures are the result of a narrative project that goes beyond the mere documentation of landscapes, architecture or the object they represent. Through his photographs, Ken Schluchtmann opens up for an intimate dialogue between the Norwegian landscape and the viewer.

It all started in 1997 with a trip to Norway. The impressions Ken Schluchtmann experienced at the time were so intense that he then quit his law studies in Hanover and trained as a photo designer in Berlin.

For the current project, he has been travelling the country over the past eight years, driving over 25,000 kilometres, living in his VW-Bus for weeks and producing over 10,000 photos. Ken Schluchtmann is up until now the only professional photographer who has photographed these landscapes consistently. Schluchtmann uses a coherent imagery, which creates a strong identity and shows some of the most beautiful parts of rural Norway. The pure power of the landscape is strengthened by the integration of architecture and art works.

The same idea is behind the exhibition and graphic design concept conceived by Schluchtmann together with the Berlin creative agency Bluescope using the architecture of the Felleshus to create an experience where the audience can immerse in Norway’s impassable and impressive landscape. Whether you make your way through the rows of seats in the auditorium to see the video or go up the stairs to the first floor, where an oversized first picture makes the viewer appear small: the architecture of the building is consciously used everywhere as an integral part of the exhibition concept, with its various levels and materials, such as exposed concrete, glass, wood and metal, reminding one of the buildings Schluchtmann photographed in Norway.

In order to achieve a more intense experience for the viewer, in addition to the presentation of the photos in various sizes and print types, film, projection, animation and even large stones, which the photographer had brought back from Norway over the years, have been merged into an overall concept.

The exhibition space at the 1st floor is defined by black partition walls which follow the outlines of the travelled routes. These walls trace the photographer's itinerary and provide changing spatial experience and surprising views for the visitors within the space itself.

The multimedia aspect of Schluchtmann’s exhibition shows up in different moments: the auditorium with the projection of the Making Of video, which can otherwise be also seen on the first floor as an introduction to the exhibition itself. The video is underlaid with contemporary electronic music that goes hand in hand with the architectural design and intensifies the sublimity of the dramatic landscapes. It is also the music that accompanied Schluchtmann during his trips to Norway. Next to the café on the 1st floor, a video mapping of Norway visualizes the travel route and complements it with matching landscape motifs of the various regions.

A series of 6 photographs takes the exhibition to the 2nd floor enriching the experience of the canteen users.

The curator Janike Kampevold Larsen describes in her curatorial statement how the exhibition situates Ken Schluchtmann—whom she calls a “master of light”—in a long tradition of landscape representation in Norway. Janike Kampevold Larsen, the curator, is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Urbanism and Landscape, Oslo School of Architecture and Design. She is a landscape traveller, researcher and theorist with a background in literature and philosophy. She has researched and published on the Norwegian Tourist Route Project and is currently researching Arctic landscapes—the Kola Peninsula, the Barents Coast and Svalbard.

The ingredients in Ken Schluchtmann’s photographs from Norway are architecture, landscapes and roads, all flooded in northern summer light. “Schluchtmann’s photographic eye harbours an astonishing precision. It scales and aligns—but it also imagines. Architecture is always positioned in a landscape context, precisely scaled to an often impressive topology and view. It shapes, materials and colours are allowed to play with elements and vegetation. This project unfolds as a very sensitive reading of the landscape and architecture. The beholder is allowed to sense with the camera, to move slowly across natural and built surfaces and to let the gaze drift off beyond and between architectural volumes.”

The beholder is allowed to sense with the camera, to move slowly across natural and built surfaces and to let the gaze drift beyond and between

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