From 10 September ro 1 October 2011 the gallery RADAR Architecture & Art hosted the exhibition 'Now We Are Gone', showing works by the English photographer Chidi Onwuka.Theme of the exhibition
The series of photos exhibited shows the interiors of two buildings in Amsterdam, that were about to be demolished: the former Post CS Gebouw and the Wibauthuis building on Wibautstraat. In this superb series, the photographer concentrates his attention on the remains of the buildings; capturing what the current conformity tends to forget or hide. Unconventionality often leads to surprising results: in 1632 Rembrandt portrayed in his painting "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp" in a completely new way until then, a professor who dissected a corpse in front of his students. Similarly Chidi Onwuka, referring to the buildings in question, speaks of a "wounded animal" that is about to die, and it is this particular “wound” that fascinates him. The city as a whole is composed of a variety of buildings where the human activities take place. They are put onto a scale of importance where at the top we find the monument, par excellence untouchable and beautifully displayed, and at the bottom the buildings to be demolished, hidden behind anonymous scaffolding. And it is exactly on the latter subject that Chidi Onwuka wants to point his finger: on what is hidden and considered embarrassing by the common sense, trying to find the beauty that lies in the unusual.Statement of the artist
In an environment in the process of demolition - says Chidi Onwuka - you can find endless details that testify that a quantity of people passed and numerous facts happened there. You can see that the place has been the scene of emotions and changes - the marks they left are more than ever visible, because the building is exposed and stripped bare. At the same time – the photographer continues – in those spaces reins an almost contemplative peace, for the simple fact that they are abandoned. Wandering in the two buildings, Post CS Gebouw and the Wibauthuis, Chidi Onwuka has crystallized images that contain both violence and peace, the bustle of human activity and tranquility typical of abandonment. The two buildings in question are both located in the heart of Amsterdam, “but in them - explains Chidi Onwuka - I found silence and peace far superior to any city park”. The unconventionality of the photographer is tangible in his images and his way of thinking: “as a child you find everything interesting without bias” - explains Onwuka - “as you grow, society teaches you to judge and to filter what is considered beautiful, right and correct from what is not”. By concentrating his attention on abandoned areas Onwuka shows that his own judgment filter is broken, but thanks to this malfunction, he succeeds in bringing to light images of extreme beauty and originality.The artist
Chidi Onwuka is an English born Nigerian, brought up in Oxford. He graduated in Architecture and studied Film Theory & Criticism. In 1989 he moved to Amsterdam were he now works and lives. The photographer has worked as an architect in Dutch studios (OMA, Neutelings Riedijk, West 8) and then as an interactive designer, art director and programmer. Ocassionally he writes about architecture and urbanism. His true love in life though is to observe the world around him and in photography he has found the perfect outlet in which to express himself.
text by Marco Radar