Gili Merin & Diana Ibáñez López
Topo.graphics is a photography workshop. It looks at the city as a topography, reading the city without a distinct figure and ground. Found in the scale between buildings and territories, topography, here, is the three-dimensional surface of the tangible world, including natural and artificial elements, humans and non-humans, monumental landmarks and their generic surroundings. Photography is the ultimate medium to express the topographic approach: it can challenge the way urban space is often defined by seeing it not as a collection of artefacts, but as a continuous topography.
This workshop will be conducted as a series of daily assignments and collaborative discussions. Each day will begin with a lecture that covers a range of histories and references, including Walker Evans’ photo-essays, the formative New Topographics exhibition, the travelogues of Robert Smithson, the artist’s books of Ed Rusche, the seminal work of Martha Rosler, and the polemic visual essays of Allan Sekula.
As an overarching theme, the work produced in the workshop will learn from these examples by foregrounding representations of the banal rather than the heroic, opting for a visual language that is essentially unsentimental: dead-pan and non-hierarchical in focus and composition, blending urban figure and ground.
The photographic work is the method of inquiry itself; not means but an end. Participants will
produce images as stand-alone or as a series, write photo-essays, and create travelogues of their journeys through the city. The result would be composed into a booklet, exhibition, and will join the global topo.graphics project, a platform dedicated to the topographics study of cities worldwide.
Gili Merin (PhD) is an architect and photographer based in Vienna. She holds an MA and a PhD from the Architectural Association, and has studied architecture in Jerusalem, Berlin, and Tokyo. Formerly the head of History and Theory at the RCA and a Diploma Unit Master at the AA, she is currently a postdoc fellow at the TU Wien. In 2023, Gili was awarded the Graham Foundation Grant to publish her photo book “Analogous Jerusalem,” a travelogue through alternative sites of pilgrimage. She has written and photographed for the Economist, Architects’ Journal, the Guardian, the AA Files, amongst others, and exhibited work at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Louisiana Museum of Art, HKW in Berlin and the Seoul Biennale for urbanism.
Diana Ibáñez López is an educator, curator and urbanist working at the intersections of spatial practice, policy and place-based research. She leads MA Cities at Central Saint Martins and co-founded spatialradio.live. Diana has been a Visiting Professor at HfG Karlsruhe’s Product Design school, an associate of The Why Factory and taught Architecture MA studios at the Royal College of Art, Kingston University and TU Delft. Diana was Senior Curator and co-Artistic Director at Create, an arts organisation dedicated to making projects that are useful to society. She has also worked in the public sector, at MVRDV and at Phaidon Press.