Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics at MAST Foundation

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The MAST Foundation presents in the exhibition Thomas Struth: Nature & Politics a selection of large color images of the German photographer made since 2007 in the industrial and scientific research sites around the world that represent avant-garde, experimentation and innovation in human activities.

Thomas Struth Grazing Incidence Spectrometer
Thomas Struth Grazing Incidence Spectrometer

Artist of the best known and most famous of the international scene, Thomas Struth, in the 25 large format photographs displayed in the MAST PhotoGallery, accompanies the visitor to discover places that are usually inaccessible to the public, showing us a glimpse of the unknown world behind innovation technology.

Thomas Struth Golems Playground
Thomas Struth Golems Playground

Space research laboratories, nuclear plants, operating theaters, drilling platforms are photographed with meticulous attention, detached curiosity and with the ability to observe the characteristics of the environments and infrastructures that researchers no longer see, because they are foreign to their interests. As in the image of the chemical hood of the University of Edinburgh that may seem, at first glance, a room set up for a children’s party between writing on the glass and colored balloons. Technology is completely visible, but the actual function it performs remains hidden.

 Thomas Struth Bronchial Tree with Support Structure
Thomas Struth Bronchial Tree with Support Structure

As explained by Urs Stahel, curator of the exhibition

With the usual precision and meticulousness and with a marked aesthetic sensibility, Thomas Struth realizes great images of the world of contemporary research and high technology. Through his photographs we are able to perceive all the complexity, the scope, the strength of the processes, but also to perceive the power, the politics of knowledge and of the trade that they conceal. Over time we learn to name the individual parts of these processes, we appropriately integrate them into the world we know, but the overall connection escapes our understanding and there is nothing left but a great amazement, sometimes amused, in the face of otherness alienating of these hyper-technological ‘gears’ of the present and of the future

Thomas Struth focuses on machines as tools for transforming contemporary society and explores the aesthetics of innovation and experimentation through the recording of complexity, alluding to the hidden structures of control, power and influence exerted by advanced technologies on our own existence.

On the opposite thematic side, at level 0 of the Gallery, in the video projection Read This Like Seeing It for the First Time of 2003, the artist represents human work, the man’s own ability to operate with the utmost manual and artistic precision. The video, which records five classical guitar lessons held by Frank Bungarten in the Lucerne Music Academy, illustrates the timely interaction between teacher and student, the necessary exchange between teaching and learning, between giving and receiving.

Thomas Struth GRACE Follow On Bottom
Thomas Struth GRACE Follow On Bottom

Thomas Struth (born 1954) is one of the most important artists of his generation. In the seventies he was a student at the Kunstakadamie Düsseldorf, where he first studied painting with Gerhard Richter, then photography with Bernd and Hilla Becher. Together with the other Becher students, including Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff and Candida Höfer, he was one of the protagonists of the so-called Düsseldorf School. He became famous all over the world thanks to his photographs of urban views, individual and family portraits, large-format images taken in museums and photographs of the “Paradise” series. Since 2007, after visiting a huge shipyard on the island of Geoje in South Korea, he has addressed and illustrated a new theme: science and technology.
His works are in the collections of the most important museums in the world.

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