Erieta Attali has spent a significant amount of time exploring intense urban environments such as New York, Paris, and now, Singapore. Her photographic work in Singapore starts unfolding at different scales. In one of her typical visual translations of settings and situations, Attali decides to read Singapore as a Human Geology. The city becomes a range of megalithic ecosystems that rise from the ground, populated by plant life, birds, and urban dwellers.
-text by © Aris Kafantaris
Erieta Attali has built her visual language in some of the most extreme landscapes of the world, photographing human structures as if they were civilizational outposts, embedded into, and almost swallowed by their natural context. For a photographer of landscapes, or of architecture within landscapes, cities might not seem like ideal targets for experimentation; but Attali has spent a significant amount of time exploring intense urban environments such as New York, Paris, and now, Singapore.
She has in the past outlined the edges of the city, i.e. the interface between nature and human structures, sometimes sharp and sometimes blurred and indistinct: the coastlines and bays around Manhattan, or the river Seine as it inundates the city of light with its continuous, shifting reflections. In Attali’s urban environments, nature is invited into the view and almost demands to be dealt with, as an urban reality.
Attali’s photographic work in Singapore, however, starts unfolding at different scales. This city, challenged by limited buildable land but also emboldened by a collective decision to become the “greenest city” is growing at a mega-scale that is often more reminiscent of geological, rather than urban structures. In one of her typical visual translations of settings and situations, Attali decides to read Singapore as a Human Geology.
The city becomes a range of megalithic ecosystems that rise from the ground, populated by plant life, birds, and urban dwellers. Her, usually, horizontal view and expansive panoramas adapt to this new landscape: they twist and rotate, looking upwards, downwards, through masses of floating vegetation and towards articulated skylines. Most of the photographic work is organized in triptychs, where different aspects of Singapore are combined in sequences.
The triptych format is particularly well suited to Attali’s reading of Singapore: it becomes a narrative means for capturing the three dimensionality of this spatial city, where a single point of view can open up to an astonishingly diverse scenery. Through her images, we are introduced to a stratified landscape where neither nature invades the city, nor does the city colonize nature. They rather become entangled, indistinguishable, and interdependent.
Attali’s endeavors tend to span several years of investigation, during which she literally lives inside her subject matter, and meticulously creates new photographic vocabularies. This series on the Urban Geology of Singapore seems to be the beginning of yet another of these journeys, holding the promise of a continually expanding photographic conversation, and discovery.
This series of photographs is part of the twin photographic exhibition “Entangled Landscapes“, organized by The National University of Singapore (NUS) Department of Architecture, featuring the work of of internationally renowned Architectural Photographer and Visiting Professor at NUS Dr Erieta Attali, as well as students’ photography work from coursework led by Dr Erieta Attali in the NUS Department of Architecture. The exhibition comprises a selection of Attali’s international works which highlight her reading of architecture as part of a larger landscape, in parallel with her students’ works that interpret Singapore through the same lens of continuity between landscape and architecture.
Exhibition Designer & Coordinator: Ong Chan Hao
Exhibition Designer: Zheng Renjie
Venue: The URA Centre, Level 1
Date: Apr 15 – May 14 2022
Time: 9am – 5pm
Text: ©Aris Kafantaris, Architect & Chief Project Manager at Kengo Kuma & Associates, Tokyo, JP
Entangled Landscapes is supported by the Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore, with support from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore as venue partner.