j u l i a n f a u l h a b e r
e x t r a s p a z i o has the pleasure of presenting LDPE, the first solo show in Italy by German photographer Julian Faulhaber (born Würzburg 1975, lives and works in Berlin).
LDPE (low density polyethylene) is the name of a thermoplastic polymer derived from petroleum, synthesised in the 1930s and still in use for an infinity of products, from plastic bags to work surfaces and hardware for computers.
Many of Faulhaber’s interior and exterior shots are actually built with this material, ‘modern’ by definition, but in each case LDPE is perfectly adapted to the artist’s ironic metaphors of utopian resistance to corrosion, to deterioration, to mortality; necessarily a world without living beings who annoyingly besmirch, scratch and damage.
The extremist and critical formalism of these rarefied and immaculate environments (Faulhaber has had long experience in advertising), clean and perfect to the point of appearing unreal and digitalised, coloured, geometrical and biomorphic, simultaneously figurative and abstract, discourage any illusion of being able to intercept any human traces. But the rigidified objectivity and the lucid artificiality of the images (emphasised by the mounting of the prints behind acrylic glass) create powerful tension between their apparent refractoriness to speculations about a specific cultural behind-the-scenes and the urge to hypothesise a social, historical and ontological meaning.
Faulhaber documents environments, respecting them for what they are. He chooses a point of view, shoots with long exposure times, exploits local light and does not intervene in postproduction.
The artist does not aim to explain reality or to coarsely declare against the direction reality is taking, leaving this problem to the beholder. This is why his works transmit both the sense of utopia and dystopia latent in present day reality, at the same time showing the vices and virtues of consumerist culture: the choice of seeing one of the two sides of the coin is down to the observer.
The series LDPE is a collection of places under construction: basketball fields, service stations, offices, building sites, shopping malls, TV studios, broad avenues and facades. Faulhaber’s environments have yet to be inaugurated and the photographer immortalises them in that brief time limbo between their completion and the start of utilisation; that moment of perfection before the arrival of humanity, the collapse of faith in the eternal beauty of LDPE, the smell of bleach and other beliefs such as the fact that Dash, from year to year, always washes whiter.