In “Condensed Heidegger’s Hut,” the young Italian-born, Berlin-based Paolo Chiasera explored the philosopher’s ideas about time. Working in sculpture, film, painting, architectural interventions and photographs, he enacted an unconventional life cycle.
Chiasera’s project involved several stages.â?¯All referred to Heidegger’s cabin in Todtnauberg, in the Black Forest, where the philosopher wrote much of his seminal 1927 work Being and Time. For one stage, the artist re-created the interior layout of the cabin inside the gallery with gray wood and cardboard. He also built a 2-meter-high model of the cabin in a vacant lot near the gallery. During the exhibition’s opening, Chiasera burned the model.
With the resulting ash, he covered a 55-by-63-inch canvas that was hung high on the gallery wall. The painting was accompanied by a film, played by an old projector, which showed a series of still photographs of the model followed by shots of the canvas as it was being covered in ash, but skipping over the burning. Instead, Chiasera chose to “burn” the film, by overexposing it. The faint, flickering yellowed images enhanced one’s awareness of the lag between filming and screening. The film’s aged appearance, along with the rickety projector, combined to offer a commentary on Heidegger’s notions of being and duration: Chiasera shot the film recently, but by the time he screened it, it had become a part of history—the history of the model and the painting.
Chiasera also created a less arresting but still engaging second life for the cabin walls he built within the gallery, breaking them apart during the show’s run and using the materials to construct four plinths. On the plinths, he presented black-and-white snapshots taken (before the exhibition) by the Berlin-based philosopher Wolfgang Welsch, a Heidegger scholar, of the gallery’s light fixtures. A dozen ink-and-crayon landscape drawings by Chiasera (all 2009, approx. 23 by 31 inches) imagined the area around the philosopher’s cabin, where he took long walks while refining his ideas.
In Being and Time, Heidegger asks, “Does time itself reveal itself as the horizon of being?”â?¯Chiasera deftly used wood, paper, ash, film and the narrative of a few objects undergoing birth and rebirth to study the profound relationships between existence, identity and temporality.
Photo: Paolo Chiasera: From the series “Heidegger’s Walk,” 2009, ink and crayon on paper, 23 1/2 by 31 1/2 inches; at PSM.