On the occasion of the recent inauguration of PROPAGANDA (2021), Lucia Koch’s installation of the series Fundos at Inhotim, Nara Roesler São Paulo presents Depois de tudo [After All], a selection of recent works from the same series.
PROPAGANDA, on view in Inhotim through August 2022, is part of the Território Específico [Specific Territory] program, in which artists are invited to develop new works based on their experiences with the institution and its surroundings. In this project, Koch simultaneously occupies spaces in the city of Brumadinho and at Instituto Inhotim, reflecting on the place of art and the logic of information dissemination maneuvers. The work consists of interventions on billboards, which bring photographs of empty boxes and packages that the artist collected in the cities of Brumadinho and Belo Horizonte. The images were then presented on advertising spaces that already existed in Brumadinho, which were rented to the project during the entire duration of the exhibition, and on billboards built especially for the occasion, installed in Inhotim.
Lucia Koch began developing Fundos in 2001, through which she explores the architectural characteristics of everyday objects, photographing interiors of cardboard boxes used to package food, and drinks, amongst others. The inspiration for the series outcome from Koch’s personal experience. “When I had my own apartment for the first time, I almost had no furniture, so I used piled up cardboard boxes to keep my stuff, like a shelf. I found myself looking at them a lot. At the time I was making videos and I had this insight: that video turned everything flat, and I wanted to use that lack of depth. I kept thinking of making images of the bottoms of cans, bottles and boxes”, tells Koch, revealing that she did not pursue the idea, due to the lack of technology for large-scale printing at the time.
Only in 2001, with the arrival of print equipment capable of making the high-definition images, Koch returned to the project. This series of works, in production since then, was titled as Fundos. Each image has the same name as the product photographed: Tetra Pak, Tagliatelle, Cream Cracker, etc. The operation used in the title, then, is tautological and evokes the concrete reality of the product in opposition to the illusory effects brought by the perspective established by the photographic angle. An uncanny feeling arises when we face those familiar objects that present themselves under new perspectives, disturbing our perception. In the photographs, we face the emptiness left by the product, which is no longer there and which, in some way, previously gave purpose to that packaging. Koch's aesthetic operation, then, consists of transforming the ordinary into extraordinary images.
When printed in large scale, the images appear to form virtual extensions of the spaces they occupy. In altering dimensions and playing with perspectival angles, the artist creates an imagined, or invented space, with the packaging's holes and openings reinforcing architectural illusion. “By upsetting the expected hierarchy of scales between these objects and the surfaces occupied by their images in this series, Lucia Koch momentarily disassociates the photographs from their immediate references […]. But besides challenging our usual ways of relating with the space, these photographs also depend on an outside source of light to bring to life the dark inner corners of the boxes; [they] acquire meanings through light; meanings that cannot be fully expressed by mean other than the ones proper to the pieces themselves”, wrote the curator Moacir dos Anjos.
Since 2001, works from the Fundos series have been presented in numerous exhibitions, both solo and group shows. The first public appearance of the work took place that year, in the artist's solo exhibition at Centro Cultural São Paulo (CCSP), in which Koch exhibited the first large scale photos of the series. The following year, the works were displayed in the group show Shift, curated by Luiza Interlenghi, at the Center of Curatorial Studies at Bard College, in Annandale-OnHudson, United States. According to the curator: “Koch unsettles areas of the museum’s wall by strategically placing large scale digital prints that depict alternative spaces. 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.”
After that, photographs from the Fundos series, printed in different sizes, were part of the exhibitions of the 8th Istanbul Biennale (2003); Ipermercati dellArte – Il Consumo Contestato, at the Palazzo Papesse de Arte Contemporaneo, in Siena; and the 27th Bienal de São Paulo (2006). With Fundos, Koch often aims to create direct relationships with the world of advertising and consumption, as one can see in two projects that are, in a way, at the origin of PROPAGANDA. The first one is the intervention in the 11th Bienal de Lyon (2011), and the other one, in the 1st Bienal de Rabat (2019), the artist's first commissioned project on Africa. In the latter, Koch took photos of the inside of a Henrys cookie box, an iconic local brand, as well as its exterior. The artist manipulated the object, turning the box inside out and inverting it to exhibit them on two billboards in the city. In one of them, the two images were placed on the front and back of the structure, and in the other, a third photograph.
Fundos series brings together methods and fundamental questions in Koch's practice, which are based on the relationship between art and architecture and the use of banal objects to change our perception of spaces –virtual or real ones–, leading us to question the way we perceive our environment.