A banner image from the project Levelled Landscapes with a long bubble level in the forground, and out-of-focus lake in sunset in the background

Dead Images

The project Leveled Landscapes explores Austrian sites whose difficult histories remain unsettled, contested, neglected or buried. A series of photographs, usually exhibited alongside an open archive, reveal burdened landscapes in which history, memory and commemoration are an ongoing political process. A spirit level (bubble level, Wasserwaage) placed in the foreground of the image renders the landscapes as blurry backgrounds.

The spirit level is a measurement tool – it is the precondition for leveling grounds and the construction of new realities. Embedded in the photographic apparatus itself, the level provides visual assurance and a sense of reliability, granting a ‘natural’ perception of the scenery. Landscape, one of the first and most captured subjects of photography, is neither neutral nor natural or innocent.

Leveled Landscapes investigates how politics of memory and commemoration shape landscapes. It portrays the way national processes of narration and myth construct our perception of landscapes, the way we capture them, render them, and live in them.

Leveled Landscapes is part of a project trilogy about the politics of memory in Austria, produced in collaboration with Karin Schneider as part of the research projects MemScreen (2011-2013) and Conserved Memories (2013-2016) based at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. These projects were funded by the Austrian Science Fund under their Programme for Arts-based Research (PEEK: AR 96, AR 212-G21).