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Lucia Koch: The Space Inside Out

Luiza Interlengui

The works in “Shift” lead the viewer into changeable spaces which frequently appear as alternating layers, or as configurations of interior rooms, spaces within space. Through blown-up visions of the interior of small cardboard boxes, Lucia Koch achieves, in the Fundos series, a scale that physically affects the viewer. Koch unsettles areas of the museum’s walls by strategically placing gigant digital prints that depict alternative spaces (plate 19). The suggested unfolding of the walls into adjacent rooms vanishes as the viewer gets closer to them and is able to identify details that betray the nature of the object photographed. The scale produces a spatial ilusion, but closer observation reverses the effect of scale and reveals the actual objects pictured: regular cardboard containers for food (pasta, orange juice or milk)(plate19). Working on the edge of percentual instability, the image is experienced both as ilusion and as a physical presence (a layer covering the wall).

On the other hand, the formal similarities between the image with and the spatial structure of the actual room activate the surrounding architectural elements. With flat and illusionistic images Koch obtains the body-to-body experience that minimalism explores in the three dimensions. Paradoxically, a sculptural sensibility appears in the image once a virtual three-dimensional space activates the surrounding architectural elements. Unexpectedly, the sculptural also appears in the spatial nature of the object pictured. In this series, the viewer bounces from the illusion of glimpsing a passageway to the awareness of the image as a layer that deceives the gaze. The spatial analogy between the object and the gallery’s architecture goes beyond mere optical illusionism, producing an exchange between actual and virtual experience of space. The is a constant movement from the virtual three-dimensionality generated by the large-scale image to the three-dimensionality inherent in the object.

Koch produced the Fundos series after a sequence of installations with color filters in existing windows, roofs or skylights, positioned at the borders between interior and exterior spaces (plate 20, 21, 22 and 23). The natural light filters Koch uses adhere to or replace existing architectural elements. The installations are done in office rooms, passageways of residential buildings and other spaces. As the daylight diminishes or the sun moves on its seasonal track, the filters dye these spaces with an ever-changing palette of colors. At the 200 Pontevedra Biennial, Koch interfered with an external veranda-shaped roof, located at patio between three buildings at the University of Pontevedra. Koch simply substituted the opaque tiles for transparent ones in seven differents shades of  yellow, orange, gray and violet. The sunlight expanded the hot colors along the line of the roof and brought life to the gray area. The slight shift in one of the existing elements had a huge impact on the aesthetic intensity of the place.

Koch’s alteration of the intensity and in the color of existing light draws attention to the connection between adjacent spaces. This procedure informs the Fundos series, wich creates adjacent spaces where they do not actually exist. In Porto, Koch presented two different installations. At the “Squatters” project (curated by Museu Serralves and Witte de With museum for Porto 2001) she substituted an exterior wall of clear glass with colored plexiglas, intensifying the fusion of inside and outside. With the limited sequence of colors – yellow, amber, transparent white and a sequence of blue and violet – that already exists in the landscape, Koch brings the landscape into the interior. Through the plexiglass wall the landscape appears flattened and closer to the interior of the room. This room is bathed in the same colored light and therefore is integrated into the landscape. Illuminated from inside, the glass wall functions as a light box in the nocturnal landscape during the night. In the darkness, from the outside, the colors affect the building’s façade, its surroundings, and ultimately the whole landscape.

Koch’s use of architectural elements located between the interior and exterior of built spaces (natural light introducing movement and unexpected shifts into built rooms) suggests an analogy with the borders between art and everyday life. Just as cofined rooms are permeable and renewed by light and colors, the spaces of art benefit from everyday-life. The frame of art can be crossed from both sides. Koch appropriates existing passages in the borders between art and life. While directing the viewer’s gaze to the outside, Koch brings exterior light in and underlines the arbitrary nature of division of the two spaces.