Vera Lutter

What's on: Vera Lutter

Gagosian Gallery (Chelsea)

To call German-born artist Vera Lutter’s photographic process ambitious is a criminal understatement: she literally lives inside her room-size camera obscuras for the duration of week-long exposure times, capturing on massive sheets of light-sensitive paper the creepily negative images of factories and corporate and

industrial headquarters. The three diptychs and seven triptychs on view at Gagosian (until 3 May) depict, among other fraught sites, the Pepsi Cola company in Long Island, New York; the Frankfurt International Airport; and the Kvaerner Shipyards (above). Like a wily spy, Lutter sets up camp in rooms directly facing her architectural subjects—the long exposure times give her still photographs the aura of surveillance films. This impression is especially reinforced by their blurred record of personnel movement on site. The irony is that Lutter’s pictures should look so strangely, even frighteningly futuristic, when they utilise the antiquated pinhole camera obscura, a primitive photographic device that dates back to the Renaissance.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 135 April 2003