320 x 200 x 3 cm
Luxar coated, double glazed museum glass
Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Purchase made possible by Club Fonds Konkret
"Untitled" from the series "Subtraction as Addition"
Raphael Hefti (born 1978 in Biel, Switzerland) gained widespread recognition through his spectacular photographs of night-time mountain landscapes illuminated by Swiss Army flares. The artist, who originally trained in electromechanics, studied photography at the Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) and obtained a MFA degree from the Slade School of Fine Art in London. His working method visualizes industrial production processes and explores material properties, form-finding, and manufacturing techniques. He observes and analyzes the logic of conventional methods of production and processing, while experimenting with everyday materials such as glass, iron, and photographic paper by exposing them to unusual procedures and excessive treatment.
In his long-term study of artificial light in photography, he recently began using highly flammable Lycopodium spores to expose large sheets of photographic paper. When inflamed, these spores leave strange markings on the paper resembling informel shapes in yellow, red, blue, or black. His group of works titled “Aether & Phlogiston” from 2008 consists of photographs printed on large sheets of Baryta paper, a large photograph taken at night, a film, and an installation. These works are both highly technical and aesthetic and are the result of very complex procedures. This is also the case for his seven-part series “Subtraction as Addition,” of which one of the panels (number 7 in the sequence) belongs to the collection of the Museum Haus Konstruktiv. The series consists of unbreakable museum glass that has been treated several times using a chemical process for reducing unwanted reflections. Through Hefti’s intensive treatment, the original purpose of creating non-reflective, almost imperceptible glass was turned around. The result was a multitude of changing reflections with an unfolding colorful vibrancy. The atmosphere this creates reminds us of Glen Rubsamen’s kitschy and beautiful landscape pictures, with the camera mounted on a tripod evoking the way Rubsamen often places silhouettes of trees in his pictures.
Hefti occasionally stages performances in which he pours molten metal over sand and lets it harden. He also melts PET bottles in his studio and pours them into molds or allows them to cool in the process of flowing. The sometimes misshapen results of these experiments – the hodgepodge of liminal objects, fragments, and random products – form a collection to draw from for future works. Hefti’s aesthetic language is thus deeply rooted in the scientific and alchemic processes on which the methods and techniques of his artistic production are based.
Dominique von Burg