Exhibition: 16 May – 29 Nov 2020
CNA Centre national de l'audiovisuel
1b, rue du Centenaire
Exhibition: 16 May – 29 November 2020
ln 2018, photographer Christian Aschman was commissioned by the Centre national de l'audiovisuel (CNA) to draw up a visual inventory, both intra and extra muros, of the "Agrocenter" industrial zone. Located in Mersch, it had been serving the agrifood industry since 1959. With a view to safeguarding a heritage site that had played a central role in the Luxembourg agricultural sector for decades, both the CNA and the photographer agreed that it was vital to establish a photographic record of it.
Spread over an area of thirty hectares, the "Agrocenter" is made up of twenty or so buildings destined for a variety of uses: production, transformation, sales, storage, quaI ity control and analysis, energy supply, maintenance and administration. Today, the site has been zoned for redevelopment to make way for a new residential and commercial district.
The "Hors-Champs" exhibition is designed as a photographic stroll through a site which at the time of shooting was already partially abandoned and soon destined to vanish. To capture the spirit of the place, Christian Aschman roams through the tree-lined alleys and rows of buildings which demarcate the various sectors of the site which become his primary spatial references. He allows his gaze to wander freely so as to hit upon the point of view that best serves documentary completeness. Yet his choice of viewing angles and perspectives troubles us. Like him, we strive to visually embrace this expanse, to find our way through this setting of concrete and overgrown vegetation. But in vain! The site is simply too vast! To come to grips with this phenomenon, Christian Aschman relies on plays of light and shade, he creates suggestive images while systematically resorting to an "hors-champ" off-camera approach leading to unexpected framings that leave it up to the individual viewer to complete the picture, as it were... and by consequence, the site.
Following on from this visual and factual introduction, Christian Aschman turns his gaze to the buildings' interiors with an approach worthy of archaeological exploration. He singlesout the architectural details as weil as the functionalities and particularities of site's most emblematic food-industry installations: the abattoir, the compound animal feed plant, the cereal storage silos, the seed processing station, the grain reception hall and the meeting room. Yet the photographer's gaze is also drawn to the special interior atmospheres of each of these buildings. As he captures these, he translates them into his own visual language to invite us to an astanishing spectacle of colour and light, forms and spaces, materials and technologies that prevailed for over sixty years in this closed off universe inaccessible to the public.
The 87 photographs exhibited are drawn from some 800 final images selected from the numerous shooting sessions that Christian Aschman carried out on site in Mersch. These have now been integrated into the CNA archives to henceforth become part of Luxembourg's photographic heritage.
Christian Aschman, born in 1966 in Luxembourg, graduated from the ERG school (Ecole de Recherche Graphique) in Brussels before embarking on a career as an independent photographer in 1992. He is the author of numerous fashion reportages, portraits and photographic commissions on the theme of the city, with a special emphasis on construction and architecture.
Open and curious with regard to photography, his personal and artistic work has developed in a variety of contexts in keeping with photographic approaches that over time have become his hallmark, as testified to by his "Kiosque Gigogne" installation and the publication of his artist's book "The space in between". The former was presented at the "KIOSK" by AICA Luxembourg in 2011 in a disused kiosk transformed into a pop-up exhibition space for the promotion of young artists in Luxembourg, while the latter was created in the course of an artist's residency in 2014 in Tokyo at the Youkobo Art Space, published by Theophile's Papersand supported by the "Bourse CNA-Aide a la creation et a la diffusion en photographie" (CNA grant-Endowment for photographic creation and publication).
Christian Aschman has also taken part in individual and collective exhibitions in Luxembourg, Brussels, Paris, Warsaw, New York and Tokyo. He lives and works in Luxembourg.