Thursday, November 20, 2014

Klaus Lutz: A Trip to the Moon and Further

The exhibition of “Klaus Lutz: Selected Stories” is quite a sight to behold. The under-recognized, Lutz, a Swiss-born artist who lived in a small one-bedroom East Village apartment from 1993 until his death in 2009, created an intense body of work, including a pseudo World’s Fair pavilion of scientific-looking turn of the century balloon structures and 16mm short films reminiscent of George Méliès’ early experimental movies. Even the positioning of the balloons (which are the convex screens for the films), as well as the thin-legged stands for the reel projectors, are old school and appear like early twentieth century industrial mechanization. In the pitch black installation, Lutz’s free standing objects could easily be pushed over if one were inclined, giving it a non-overproduced feel as if just placed there because people at the early World’s Fair respected newfound objects like these.

One’s eyes take a while to adjust when entering the dark and cavernous space as the projected light and noisy reels disorient. I was disappointed at the short amount of time fellow viewers spent in this large arena – an arena of moving images of moonwalks, rocket discoveries, a semi-autobiographical white clothed character maneuvering through a constructed universe of scientific drawings and dry-point etchings, all edited on reel film with analog techniques. Perhaps viewers are turned off by these seemingly old technologies, but one should be astonished by the ingenuity involved, and the hand crafted special effects Lutz spent hours creating in a small and restricted environment.

Photo: Klaus Lutz, Film still from “Field of Powder”, c. 1993. Photographed by the artist from 16mm film projection. Color photograph.


  1. I agree that the potential instability of the small stands supporting the large balloons is an important aspect of the installation. The the disorientating darkness and the threads of light from the projectors on to the planet like balloons was impressive. Your multi-sensory description of the disorientating experience of being in the space was very honest and effective. I was not aware that he shot these films inside his small East Village apartment. This information adds to the quasi-mythological feel of the films.

  2. As Sydney mentioned the fragility of the installation is indeed an interesting component to this work. You lose me a bit in the last sentence of your first paragraph, when you discuss this, however. Perhaps just splitting it in two and elaborating each could make it clearer.

    I also think some general reshuffling of ideas could make it a clearer and more engaging piece. For instance, moving descriptions like "near pitch black" nearer the beginning, before offering biography, might be constructive.