By the Roadside

The Begegnungsstätte Mehr Mitte of the Volkssolidarität Berlin e.V. is showing a window exhibition curated by Dr. phil. Lily Fürstenow, photographs from the photo series “By the Roadside” by Michael Nguyen from 14 November – 1 December 2023. The exhibition shows 30 photographs of facades taken in various German and other European cities. The curator Dr. phil. Lily Fürstenow is committed to promoting artists with her online exhibition  showing consequently international artists represented online in various exhibition contexts as for example e-mergING artiSTS in the current exhibition cycle Art in Public Spaces.

In architecture, the term facade refers to the outwardly visible wall surfaces of a building, including windows, doors and the likes. Materials are often concrete, glass, wood, brick or masonry made of sand-lime bricks. But for Michael Nguyen, they are not just that inanimate materials or elements. They are like the face of a human, like the shape of body, or the clothes, which communicate with the other humans and tell stories.

That’s why in most of his photographs, Nguyen does not show an overall view of a building, but a look at the details and particularities. Just like when we approach a person and have a chance to look closer, we see their beautiful eyes, we hear their unique voice from those open lips, or sometimes just an interesting pattern of the dress they wear attracts us.

With these settings in mind, look at the photos of Nguyen. Buildings are not static objects with five facades, four side walls and the roof. They are lively, dynamic sculptures. The windows are their eyes, that reveal a part of their soul. The open doors are talking with us, inviting us to come in, to hear their inner stories. And the graphic layout of bricks, of glass, of wood or whatever the genuine architects create are their eye-catching clothes, which make our cities, our urban spaces more beautiful, more vibrant.

Michael Nguyen, living in Gauting (Munich Metropolitan Area) is a “publicity shy” (Merkur daily newspaper Munich) photo artist, a photographic poet who moves away from the mainstream, at the same time blurs genres. “Most of the photos could only be taken because Nguyen has a special eye for his surroundings and gives even the mundane a second view.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). In his photography he focuses on architectural details and urban landscapes.

“With my architectural photography, I am on the search for the aesthetic qualities of buildings in their urban spatial effect. Above all, I am interested in the visual richness of detail in its compositional diversity and its strangeness. The most unadulterated, neutral documentation of buildings for sales and presentation purposes is not part of my work, nor is the creation of marketable references for architectural firms. Nor are they photographs that depict a building in its ideal state to increase the market value of the building in question. With my very own passion for buildings, I strive, as an artistic architectural photographer, to interpret reality and give a new soul to the appearance of buildings through love, enthusiasm, and desire. In doing so, I deliberately interpret what I photograph subjectively and situationally, having walked around a building over and over again in different weather and lighting situations.“  – Michael Nguyen.

Curator Dr. phil. Lily Fürstenow studied foreign languages in Tbilisi Ilia Uni and got her PhD Degree at the Humboldt University Berlin in Cultural Studies. She has been awarded DAAD Scholarship for her PhD research, Deutscher Künstlerbund Bundesprogramm Neustart Kultur Scholarship for the promotion of digital formats of contemporary art and Sammlung Schirm Donation for the X-treme Women Art Prize Berlin 2022. She lives and works in Berlin and in Tbilisi.

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