Stroom, Den Haag
NL-2514 HA The Hague
artists & participants
A Glass Darkly looks to examine a historical vision in the light of the present moment. 2014 marks exactly 100 years since the German visionary writer Paul Scheerbart (1863–1915) wrote the book Glasarchitektur (Glass Architecture). According to Scheerbart, only living inside glass architecture could elevate society by allowing contemplation of the infinite and the spatial, liberating humanity from the brick culture that tied it to the Earth. Written the same year that his friend and peer the architect Bruno Taut exhibited his famous Glass Pavilion at the Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne, the book exemplifies the modernist ideals of transparency and universality as projections for a progressive "new culture." How do these ideals stand up today? The exhibition A Glass Darkly attempts to provide some answers.
Avoiding focusing on the nostalgia for modernist architecture still ubiquitous in western culture, this exhibition looks to take the key historical propositions of glass architecture ideology in order to analyse them comparatively with their contemporary ramifications. The notion of "transparency" in particular is the focus of much attention today, not necessarily in strict architectural terms but as something that is symbolic of the growing tension between private and public space. Whilst considering the aesthetics of transparency, the artists and artistic duos participating in A Glass Darkly also contemplate the profundity of what living under such conditions means for the human subject.
Presenting a selection of works in different audio-visual forms, including new productions, the exhibition seeks to understand this subject from numerous perspectives, looking at everything from private and public life, technological freedoms, ownership and rights, and legislative and financial accountability. Each artist here might be described as working reflectively, holding up a mirror to life in contemporary society, questioning the extent to which the idea of transparency in itself is being used as a kind of veil. What thresholds might we maintain in our lives when we weigh up the aspirations and vulnerabilities that come with "open" society? Most significantly perhaps, the exhibition asks: might an awareness of this apparatus prompt us once more to think about the possibilities for another "new culture?"
A Glass Darkly is conceived by Nav Haq following an invitation from Stroom Den Haag to develop an exhibition in response to the organisation's own research into the writings of Paul Scheerbart.