Zone C

9 C-Prints, 21x21 cm, 2008
“Life always has the last word,” says Le Corbusier in Le Modulor, providing a key to interpreting his work: a standardized architecture, far from any aesthetic pleasure, which avoids ornaments and decoration but is in perfect harmony with the actions and requirements of the human body.
It was by following the Swiss architect’s advice to “design houses in series” that the first apartment buildings of the Parisian banlieus were constructed: spacious, luminous, built near major industrial centers and far from the city. Over time, however, all the intentions for integration and social wellbeing linked to the birth of new neighborhoods plummeted and, with them, the buildings and their inhabitants sank into an abyss of misery, marginalization, lack of prospects, racism and political vacuum. Zone C describes violence, disorientation and disillusionment. It tells of men and women trapped by time and space, of a dystopian, unwanted and undesirable society that, with its disharmony, assumes almost catastrophic dimensions. But when describing the ruins of abandonment, urban segregation, the general condition of housing and social exclusion of the Parisian banlieus, Niklas Goldbach—who normally focuses his work on the contradictions between the public and the private as well as on the environment and public spaces—does it discreetly, in an almost imperceptible way. The almost invisible touch, with which the nine buildings of the banlieus are described, will inevitably require reflection. It forces the viewers to get closer, to squeeze their eyes, to focus attention on the delicate, almost Flemish-like, design, so that the deafening silence of the cement suburbs, their degradation and the indigence of the inhabitants—who have no possibility of social rehabilitation—remain in our minds.
Sarah Galmuzzi, 2008

Niklas Goldbach studied photography at the University of Bielefeld and 'Experimental Media Arts' at the University of the Arts Berlin where he graduated with honours in 2004. In 2005 he majored in the MFA program 'Integrated Media Arts' at Hunter College, City University of New York and postgraduated with a "Meisterschüler" degree of the University of the Arts Berlin. In 2005 Niklas Goldbach received a Fulbright sholarship. From 2007-2008 he was participant of the artist in residency program of the "Palais de Tokyo", Paris, and in 2010 he received a grant from "Stiftung Kunstfonds Bonn".
Since 2002 his work has been presented throughout Europe, the United States and Asia in numerous film festivals, group-exhibitions and solo shows.

"In Habitat", his first show in Sweden, will feauture two works which have never been shown together: the video installation "Habitat C3B" and the C-print series "ZONE C". Both works have been produced during his stay in the 'Palais de Tokyo' in Paris, 2008 and focus on social housing projects. The third work, an installation, was made specifically for the exhibition at Galleri Maskinen.


Video Loop, 7:37 min, HD Video, Stereo, 2008
With: Daniel Reuter
Foley Artist: Martin Langenbach
Sound Design: Christian Obermaier

"HABITAT C3B" was filmed in 2008 in the district of 'Front de Seine' (also known as Beaugrenelle) in the 15th arrondissement right at the South of the Eiffel Tower. The district, built in the 1970s, is a result of Georges Pompidou's attempt to modernize the city. It includes about 20 towers reaching nearly 100 meters of height built all around an elevated espalanade paved with frescos that can only be perceived from the elevated floors of the towers. Largely fallen into disrepair, the City of Paris has launched a major project to renovate 'Front de Seine'.

"During his stay in the 'Pavillon, Laboratoire de création de Palais de Tokyo', Niklas Goldbach concentrated on the transit spaces of Paris. In “HABITAT C3B”, his characters are trapped in a public space, behaving like animals out of a cage. In front of these large long takes where the only movement is the one of the body, the spectator wonders about the place and role of these strange living creatures: are they here to control us like militias, or, on the contrary, are they controlled beings, the reflects of an entirely standardized society? Niklas Goldbach immerses us into his questionings, but never tries to solve them: nothing matters but the action that is occurring in front of our eyes.”
Ange Leccia, director of the Pavillon, Palais de Tokyo, Paris

"In Niklas Goldbach's HABITAT C3B, the urban topology is visualised as a complex labyrinth of structures and forms, quasi lifeless, cold and barren in spite of the vegetation - a landscape like out of a science fiction movie, familiar yet strange. It is inhabited by restless characters resembling cloned office clekrs, trapped in a space, in a loop-like nightmare. The spectator is left wondering about the topology, the role of the creatures. The images evoke questions about standardisation and control (Who controls and who is being controlled ?), about form and reason, about the emotional impact of urban topology on society and it's interaction with the life forms inhabiting it."
Pierre Wolter & Melanie Zagrean, "Stadt am Rande" Exhibition Catalogue
"Themes of conceptual repetition and displacement are central to the video work of Niklas Goldbach. The phenomenal context frames the disorienting effect set up by a story that has no beginning or end. In Habitat C3B we find a phenomenological non-narrative that presents itself as sequential repetitive events of both actions and participant, and whose meaning and comprehension is left largely to the viewer. In a world that is now overwhelmingly mediated by images the videos of Goldbach present a sense of fragmented punctum, a partial sensory poignancy that becomes a self fulfilling end in itself. Today we increasingly build our picture of the world (habitat) from the part-narrative of purely sensory experiences such as these."
Mark Gisbourne