Modern Life

By Cornucopia | November 15, 2011

Visual Log: A Gaze at Le Corbusier’s Oeuvre
Santral Istanbul:
Eski Silahtarağa Elektrik Santralı Kazım Karabekir Cad. No: 2 Eyüp 34060 İstanbul Turkey
Until November 27th 2011
Santral Istanbul, an imposing five-story concrete and glass structure overlooking the Golden Horn, is a fitting place to host a photographic exhibition of buildings by the famous French modernist architect Le Corbusier. The impressive ‘Visual Log: A Gaze at Le Corbusier’s Oeuvre’ commemorates the centennial of Le Corbusier’s ‘Journey to the East’ during which he travelled through the Balkans and Turkey.

Santral Istanbul and Bilgi University commissioned architect and photographer Cemal Emdem to photograph 30 of Le Corbusier’s buildings in France, Germany, India, and Switzerland, including modernist masterpieces such as the Villa Savoye in Poissy and the Unité d’Habitation in Marseilles. Here the photographs are organized around nine themes representing the intersection between Emdem’s visual gaze and Le Corbusier’s architectural ideas. The headings for these themes were picked by Emdem from the various writings and lectures of Le Corbusier. These photos show an impressive selection of Le Corbusier’s oeuvre while also managing to underscore the fraught relationship between architectural idea, the realized work, and the subsequent photographic representation. Themes such as Volume and Plasticity convey mainly architectural ideas. Others such as Colour and Grid shift importance to Emdem’s visual gaze and his interpretation of Le Corbusier. It is in the theme titled Abstract Tendency that we can clearly see the confluence of photography and architecture. Here Emdem uses diagonal framing and geometrical composition to great effect, creating from these photographs of Le Corbusier's interiors the unreal sense of an image that is so two-dimensional and abstract as to be impossible to recreate in real life.

With it’s cavernous entire and sparse grey interiors, Santral is almost a perfect place to host an exhibition on such a defining modernist architect. Running until November 27th and with free shuttle service from Taksim Square there is no reason not to examine this impressive exhibition before it closes. For more of Cemal Emdem's architectural photographs, see Cornucopia's 26-page guide to the extraordinary mosque of Diviriği in issue 43
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