Claire Laude | Ephemeral Intersects

This work is about the myth of a town: Kaliningrad/ Königsberg and its manifestations of city architecture.

Kaliningrad can be characterized by the word ‚between’, a state of transition and in-between. Constructed on the destruction of another town, enclave between Europe and Russia, the city is separated by two ideologies, a russian and a german and/or european one. Between an unknown equation – a few people in Europe know how to situate this town- and a negative reputation – Kaliningrad is the ugliest city in the world- the reconstruction of the lost town Königsberg represents an ideal to pursue. The recent urbanist competitions search for proposals that integrate the histories of both Kaliningrad and Königsberg.

The locals live the idea of a lost town while inhabiting another in a schizophrenic manner, talking about Königsberg as if they knew it. Between a dreamed up and lived town, between nostalgia and reality, Kaliningrad and the reconstruction of Königsberg participate in the elaboration of a myth and the image of a city situated between utopia and dystopia.

The myth of the city crystallized one of my topics: the survival of two images, between past and present, between two cultures and the ambivalence of a perception situated between reality, fiction and poetry.

In Kaliningrad, I got attached to photographing informal situations and structures that testify this transitory state or that show how individuals adapt to the situation, a residual architecture. Everything that is constructed in a casual way is a silent reflection of a society‘s relationship with their building. I hence photographed self-build structures, sheds, construction sites, scaffoldings, vague grounds, reinvested areas that had been destroyed. I was searching for a state of limits, traces of both a presence and it’s disappearance.

A second step consists of replicating these casual structures in a different context. As a follow up I built installations with found materials from construction sites. In several pieces I used old win- dows and scaffolding wood from a historic site, Kronprinz, a former stronghold.

The realization of those structures is somewhat aiming to reveal their existence. The choice of materials and the adjustment to form and site though generate an interpretation and adaptation of the installation while it is being constructed. This decontextualization and rewriting of a form is participating in a process of derealization, which I have lived during my phases of explorations and research of the city. Through constructing a fictional installation, provisionally drawn from reality, I am searching to metaphorically testify a fragility that accompanies a state of transition.