Borrowed Window

Sandra Peters

The installation Borrowed Window grew out of my intense engagement with the architecture of Rudolph Schindler. I developed the work in relation to the exhibition space at the Kunstsaele in Berlin but nonetheless independently of it. It is one of two window designs I did after returning from a stay in Los Angeles in spring 2011. The window for the exhibition at the Kunstsaele can be traced back to a window configuration in Schindler’s Lechner Hause, which was built in the Studio City district of Los Angeles in 1948. Several aspects that interest me dovetail in this work: First, displacing an architectural element to another spatial context. Second, “borrowing” this architecturally conceived element. This gives me the opportunity to deal with it sculpturally and to make it possible to experience it situationally. By placing the work in space, I emphasize a third aspect: the articulation and effect of the diagonal axis of the room. I combine these three aspects in my exhibition Interplay at the Kunstsaele. The result, as the exhibition title indicates, is an interplay between these aspects but also between the three planes of Borrowed Window, between it and the space, and situationally between the viewers on both sides. Placing an architecture element in a spatial structure that exists independently of it is a displacement—of a window in this case—that results in a completely new spatial situation. I place Borrowed Window into the space in such a way that the diagonal axis of the space becomes the center of attention. It makes a big difference whether one orients one’s experience of a space according to the right angles of the lines of demarcation of an architectural space or instead considers the diagonal axis of the space. For in the latter case, the space suddenly seems to open up, giving the impression of an unsuspected expanse. Because the room loses its usual “rationalist” layout, it becomes possible to experience its materiality. Borrowed Window is composed of three different elements, standing on the floor and assembled to create a window piece. The first long element is a large window frame into which panes of glass have been inserted. A horizontal muntin divides it at the top third. The second element is somewhat shorter, but on the side connected to the third element it is taller than the other two elements, so that it forms a rising angle to the third window element. This middle element has seven wooden muntins at regular intervals, rising from bottom to top and drawing lines across the view through it. The half of the third element that connects to the middle element is divided by a vertical muntin, forming a compartment resembling a door, especially since this compartment is subdivided horizontally in its bottom half and filled with a wooden panel, whereas the top part is glass. The adjacent, larger part of the third element is neither subdivided nor filled with any material. Visitors to the exhibition can walk through this frame. As a result of these various frames and subdivisions, the visitor is offered various possibilities for experiencing inside and outside and the contact between the two halves of the space. In the case of the large element, one sees the other side of the room through the glass. At the same time, slight reflections resulting from the surface of the glass point the viewers to their own spatial situation. A dialogue with visitors on the other side would scarcely be possible. With the second element, however, they can establish direct acoustic and physical contact with the other side. The muntins of the window scale the view so that the space on the opposite side of the room seems to be divided into fields. The third element is the one most reminiscent of part of a building. Because the viewer can walk through this element, it becomes possible to experience the relationship of inside and outside. The aesthetic decisions in choosing the materials and proportions were very complicated and only became possible through the process of working on it. Starring with a pasteboard model and architectural drawings, I was able to feel my way to the proportions of the work in relationship to the exhibition space. The tiniest decisions were of enormous importance when creating and implementing this work: the choice of wood, the thickness of the materials, the color, the use of surfaces, and the materiality of the paint. “The sense for the perception of architecture is not the eyes–but living. Our life is its image” (Rudolph Schindler, quoted in Esther McCoy, Five California Architects, 1960). This quotation was crucial to my reflections on materiality in my work. I wanted to create a work that enters life or the culture as a whole, one that is not experienced solely through the eyes but addresses the body in the same way.

Sandra Peters

Exh. cat. Kunstsæle Berlin

Berlin: Aanant & Zoo


pp. 26–31