the observatory in the making – solo exhibition

the observatory in the making
observation structures and sites of discovery

12 December 2009 – 23 January 2010

Marcus Neustetter’s third solo exhibition at GALLERY AOP pulls together various strands of the artist’s visual thinking. On show are a series of works that evolved from the work-in-progress sculptural installation at the Joburg Art Fair 2009, as well as various visual explorations of experiences in Sutherland in the Western Cape, which will culminate in his version of an ‘artist observatory’ to be constructed there.

His intention is to suggest, advance and produce in a playful way, site specific situations, models and structures, akin to, among other things, the drawing frames of such 15th century artists as Alberti, Da Vinci and Dürer. These will serve as perspectives for observing, drawing and enabling a visual experience. Following Dürer’s example, Van Gogh also constructed one of these drawing frames and in a letter to his brother, made a sketch of himself using it. Sir John Herschel’s four foot telescope of around 1789 also served as inspiration for Neustetter’s models and constructions. Neustetter has always had a pre-occupation with mapping and drawing Google earth perspectives as well as mapping and drawing the night sky in an attempt to understand his own position between the city lights and the stars.

In his pursuit to develop an artists’ observatory amongst the international telescopes in Sutherland, Marcus Neustetter has been drawing, photographing, printing and constructing models and installations. His latest exhibition, The observatory in the making presents a selection of drawings and make-shift structures in relation to documentation of other significant experiments and discoveries.

His intention to make sense of the reflections on the night skies has taken him to various locations in 2009. Neustetter’s explorations around the world have afforded him the opportunity to challenge his perceptions by means of on-site drawings and playful interventions in such diverse locations as the archaeological dig sites in Vela Spila (Croatia), the observatory in Sutherland, the Vredefort Dome meteorite impact crater south of Johannesburg, and in Norway, chasing the Aurora Borealis. His orientation, however, does not centre on a horizontal perspective rendering, but rather on a vertical one, looking up into the night sky and the stars, or down onto earth.

During his visits to Sutherland, Neustetter spends the nights working on glow-stick, laser and LED light installations that map constellations in the Karoo landscape, or drawing the space between the stars, much like artists were doing it before the camera was invented. While this activity has resulted in photographs and drawings, it has also encouraged him to look at structures such as observation decks and telescopes. Returning to his 16th floor apartment in a high rise building in Johannesburg city centre, Neustetter often contemplates his spacial position and has been toying with the idea of an observation platform on a rooftop nearby.

Thank you to: Oulet, Imajez, Silvertone, The Trinity Session, Main Street Life, Salt/SAAO, and especially Kevin Govender, Shane De Lange, Stacey Vorster, Ruth Rom, Gareth van Honschooten, James Webb, Jonathan Leibmann, Stephen Hobbs, Bronwyn Lace and John Hodgkiss for documenting the exhibition.

Please see low-resolution PDF for more information:
observatoryinthemaking (2.5MB)