City en passant

Regina Weiss comes from a background in sculpture. She thinks and perceives physically, committed to the tangible. The series City en passant represents her very personal attempt to explore and understand the city – through walking and studying, rather than aimless “flânerie” in the sense of Walter Benjamin. In line with Regina Weiss’s general artistic approach, the series was developed over an extended period, with several works of similar themes created beforehand

One work in the series is called Ground Piece/Sidewalk. It was handcrafted by Weiss in clay and then cast in ceramic plaster. This “ground piece,” modeled after a coarse-grained sidewalk slab, is the result of experiencing and examining urban phenomena that Weiss undergoes as both a recipient and an actor. What the artist does can be described as both exploring an urban environment and conducting research: she depicts what her gaze captures on the ground while walking. She focuses on heightened perception. Embedded in her ground piece, which can also be referred to as “expanded painting,” is the blurriness that arises from walking and the wandering gaze. The focal point has been highlighted with pigment, making it particularly tactile at the center of the image.

Regina Weiss’s work can be considered painting in its imagery, but it is also a sculptural object, thus experienced in both two and three dimensions. The artist chose a primary viewpoint during the creation process, but her work is omnidirectional, and it is revealing to walk around the “ground piece” to perceive all its details. Beauty here lies in the precision that imitates nature. Yet, it also lies in the autonomous form and a subtle counterpoint deviation strategy. To achieve this result, Regina Weiss first took photographs and then made pencil drawings, which are as sensitive as they are analytical, to precisely fix the contours of her observational subject. This method was also applied to the other two objects in the series. The drawings, in turn, served as a starting point for her sculptural expression. Thus, Weiss’s working process represents a subtle type of transformation, a fluctuation between two and three dimensions, where the investigation of human sensitivity, as she has long known through her painting, is transferred into the language of sculpture to unfold a new narrative of tactility.

A second ground piece titled Street differs slightly in surface structure from the pieces previously mentioned. A section of asphalt is modeled more openly, without defining the outer edges. The piece depicts a detailled fragment of a street, integrating the fleeting downward glance while crossing the street, a glance where, for a fraction of a second, a brief moment of ephemeral seeing connects with solid materials. Similar to the sculptural rendition of Ground Piece/Sidewalk, peripheral blur is incorporated here, arising from walking and the wandering gaze.

The third object in the series is titled Wall Piece/Plaster. This one has no focal point; rather, it depicts the perspective of movement, as can be perceived when passing by a house wall. The surface structure corresponds to the direction of movement, starting with coarser textures, becoming finer and fading out in the distance. The piece is colored. The color gradient from dark to light follows the inherent logic of the work. Like the two previously mentioned objects, this object is intensely worked, conveying the subtle interest of the artist and her concentration on the smallest details. In doing so, she confirms the notion that a significant way to encounter reality is to focus on sensitizing intellect and intuition, both with meticulousness and selectivity. Regina Weiss’s credo is minimalist realism versus consciousness confusion. Her worldview, oscillating between concretion and abstraction, micro and macro, presents her offer of temporary working hypotheses. This is also reflected in an installation version of City en passant, where two lying pedestals and a wall element, serving as displays for the objects, rhythmize the space. The pedestals are asymmetrically constructed. The resulting shadow formation makes the objects appear to float. The dynamics of the pedestal elements, supported by that of the wedge-shaped element on the wall, also set the visitors in motion. In this way, they transition from mere spectators to participants in Weiss’s experience.

With her exceptionally unobtrusive, even humble works, Regina Weiss seeks to provide transparency and legibility, thereby enabling urban political assessments and urban reflections. By examining her own capacity for perception, she describes the tension between the individual and an anonymous urban environment. However, the individual in Weiss’s works, is not detached from the collective. The starting point of her work, in this sense, is an existential question that many urban dwellers may pose, the question of the traces of one’s own living presence.

Text: Christoph Tannert
Translation: Gordon Garrega