From the Archives of Laurence W. Albin: Who lived a Most Fulfilling Life and Died a Most Fulfilling Death (London 1893 - Dresden 2019)
Tudor Bratu, From the Archives of Lawrence W. Albin: Who Lived a Most Fulfilling Life and Died a Most Fulfilling Death (London 1893 – Dresden 2019)
Image: courtesy The Balcony
On going Archive by Tudor Bratu
From the Archives of Laurence W. Albin: Who lived a Most Fulfilling Life and Died a Most Fulfilling Death (London 1893 – Dresden 2019) is a part of visual artist Tudor Bratu’s long-standing project Archive. This ongoing work is meant to be a mirror of post-war accomplishments: of that so-called humanist modernism which August Sander implicitly recorded in his project Humans of the 20th Century. Archive, however, also stems from a peculiar kind of nostalgia, which W. G. Sebald described best in On the Natural History of Destruction: “I spend my childhood and youth on the outskirts of the Alps, in a region that was largely spared the immediate effects of the so-called hostilities. At the end of the war I was just one year old, so I can hardly have any impressions of that period of destruction based on personal experience. Yet to this day, when I see photographs or documentary films dating from the war I feel as if I were its child, so to speak, as if those horrors I did not experience cast a shadow over me… I see pictures merging before my mind’s eye – paths through the fields, river meadows, and mountain pastures mingling with images of destruction – and oddly enough, it is the latter, not the now entirely unreal idylls of my early childhood, that makes me feel rather as if I were coming home…” The nostalgia of the desolation whence we came and towards which we are heading.
Reminder of human existence
Using a Minox 35 mm camera with a black and white film, nd since 20Tudor Bratu has been recorded streets, buildings, city vegetation, architectural structures, and details such as lampposts, parked cars, an occasional passer-by, letterboxes, or parts of the sidewalk. The current archive, which continues to expand and develop, is an always incomplete work about the city understood as residue and reminder of human existence and about the city lived and felt as the often empty stage of humanity as a whole. Focussing mainly on what the artist felt as similarities of places otherwise far apart culturally, politically, and socially, the Archive as a whole shows Brussels equal to Bucharest, Berlin, Seoul or Tallinn. Moreover in these similarities serves to efface cultural, social, and political boundaries. What is left is an image and experience of one enormous city and of countless lives lived in a similar fashion, with similar results. In this sense, Tudor Bratu intendes Archive to be the mirror of the times, the reminder and archive of what is yet to come.
Photographic truths, by which I mean documentary evidence cast in concrete form and assembled from objective and tangible traces, compose the matter and fabric of things that have been, are now, and sometimes, of things that are yet to come. The existence of these kinds of truths, or facts, whether directly expressed through photography or entirely unrelated to the medium, precedes any understanding of whatever is or is not the case. In other words, it is documentary facts that invite us to form opinions and it is an objective real (instead of a representation or interpretation of a real) that precedes us.
Today however the so-called post-truth condition threatens a proper understanding or evaluation of documentary facts and in doing that, threatens the very foundations of human history and future development. Our lives and daily existences are not, as so often proposed, a matter of passively enduring a post-truth world. Instead, I believe the facts of today present us with an accurate reflection of who we are and what we have done and are doing. It suffices to look at the concrete we live in and call home, at the waste and garbage we produce and are surrounded by, at rising temperatures and the smog that the air is filled with. Enduring, as we do, our own construction, means enduring the truth of what we have done, accepting the guilty verdict brought about by the documentary.
Tudor Bratu website
Read more on the collaboration
Read more on the exhibition of Willem de Haan