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Figure/Ground | Sasha Pirker


"John Lautner, The Desert Hot Springs Motel", 2007 Video/DVD, 10:34 min.

video 'John Lautner, The Desert Hot Springs Motel' on YouTube

"Ten days after I stopped writing pornographic stories, I met William Burroughs," is how the voice over in Sasha Pirker's short film begins an autobiographical story. The picture shows a few views of wind turbines in the barren area around the spa of Desert Hot Springs, which is located about 150 kilometers east of Los Angeles. Like the person which belongs to the voice, the building at which the camera stops is revealed gradually. It's the Desert Hot Springs Motel (built in 1947), which was designed by the architect John Lautner (1911-1994), whose UFO-like Malin Residence (1960; also called the Chemosphere) is one of the icons of postwar American architecture.

And the gravelly voice, apparently that of an older man, tells the story of writer Steve Lowe, who purchased the motel in 2000, renovated it and started accommodating guests there for the first time in decades. The video doesn't show the building's architecture in the style of a professional brochure. There are brief glances at details, as if a potential customer were inspecting a room before staying there for a night: the concrete-block walls, the windows that open up onto a garden, the roof's red iron trusses that were inspired by the shape of the nearby mountains, the lush vegetation. The reason behind the parallel audio and video tracks is revealed gradually. The building and its owner come closer, as if they had been waiting for one another.

Lowe's eventful life melds with the architecture's fantastic, optimistic and playfully functionalistic basic mood, which exudes the essence of California Modernism. Pirker was successful in her attempt to visually translate Lautner's idea, which was tailored to the needs of the guests, and the design which concentrates on the genius loci.
(Matthias Dusini)



"John Lautner, The Desert Hot Springs Motel", 2007 Video/DVD, as installed in 'Figure/Ground', Transit Mechelen 2009



geb. 1969 in Wien/Österreich
Studium der Linguistik und Architektur, arbeitet als Künstlerin und Ausstellungsmacherin in Wien/A


„Rudolph M. Schindler, Miracle Mile“, A/USA 2009, DV, col., 09:10 min.
„Angelica Fuentes, The Schindler House“, A/USA 2008, DV, col., 10:16 min.
„Life is beautiful“, A, 2008, Super 8, col, 1 min.
„John Lautner, The Desert Hot Springs Motel“, A/USA 2007, DV, col., 10:34 min.
„Schwarz auf Grün“, A, 2006, BetaCam, col, 3-teilig, Installation, 103:00 min.


2008 VIENNALE - Vienna International Film Festival/A
2008 Corona Cork Film Festival,Cork/IRL
2008 25 FPS International Short Experimental Film and Video Festival, Zagreb/HR
2008 One Minute Film Festival, Aarau/CH
2008 VIS Vienna Independent Shorts/A, - Audience Award 2008
2008 Iowa City Documentary Film Festival, Iowa/USA
2008 Nashville Film Festival, Tennessee/USA
2008 Dortmund / Köln - Internationales Frauenfilmfestival/D
2008 Cinécran, Vannes/F
2008 Diagonale, Graz/A
2008 Cinéma du Réel, Paris/F
2008 Transmediale, Berlin/D
2007 Denver International Film Festival, Colorado/USA
2007 Uppsala - International Short Film Festival/S
2007 Leeds - International Film Festival/UK
2007 Florenz - FESTIVAL DEI POPOLI International Documentary Film Festival/I
2007 Regensburg - Kurzfilmwoche/D
2007 VIENNALE - Vienna International Film Festival/A


2008 „herz:rasen“, Künstlerhaus Wien/A
2008 „DEHORS“, Théatre du Dijon, Dijon/F
2006 „fussballfrei“, Galerie der Stadt Wels/A
2006 „Fußball: Ein Spiel – Viele Welten“, Münchner Stadtmuseum/D (mit Thomas Hamann)
2006 „Herr der Regeln/Lord of the Rules – The Referee“, Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig/D in
Cooperation with Sportmuseum Leipzig/D (mit Thomas Hamann)
2005 „Der feine Anspruch“, Hyrtlgasse, Vienna/A (mit Nico Schatt)

Ausstellungen als Kuratorin:

2003- „inausnach: SALZBURG. Architektur 1993-2003“, Kuenstlerhaus Salzburg, Ringturm Wien/A, 2005 Designfakultät Bozen/I
2000 „Kommende Architektur 1/emerging architecture 1", Architekturzentrum Wien/A
(gem. mit Otto Kapfinger)
1999 „Das Wiener Museumsquartier und andere spannende Geschichten", Architekturzentrum Wien/A (gem. mit Katharina Ritter)
1998 „LIVING – READING. OMA Rem Koolhaas 4+24 & Bruce Mau Design“, Az W, Wien/A


Steiner, Dietmar/ Pirker, Sasha/ Ritter, Katharina (ed.): "Grössere Gegner gesucht / Stronger opponents wanted“. Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 2001.


Oostenrijks kultuurforum Brussel