Rut's work as an artist and photographer concerns the representation of the city and the phenomenon of the urban, combining formats from large-scale photographic work.
Rut studied Political Science in Duisburg, Germany, before attending the London College of Printing to complete her BA in Photography in 1993. She graduated with an MA in Photography from the University of Westminster in 1996.
Her first monograph, London – A Modern Project, appeared in 1997 and included an essay by Michael Bracewell; it was followed by Liebeslied/My Suicides, with text by Alexander Garcia Düttmann in 2000. In 2004, the photobook, ffolly, with texts by Cerith Wyn Evans, Patrick Lynch, Douglas Park, was published by ffotoworks. The most comprehensive monograph on her work, Commonsensual, was published by Black Dog in 2009 and includes a critical essay by Regis Durand. In 2012, the Museum Simeonstift in Trier, Germany held a survey show of her work, Lustgarten.
Recent projects include: Silver Forest (2016) an architectural installation on the western façade of Westminster City Hall; and London Dust (2011–13) a series of photographs and a film that trace the rapid architectural transformation of the City of London in relation to the development of CGI photographic representation. She created the iconic cover for the The Streets’ Original Pirate Material.
Rut Blees Luxemburg works with large-format photography to propose alternative visualisations of the urban space.
Rut has exhibited widely throughout the UK, including the solo exhibition Phantom, a photographic exploration of Modernity’s imprint on the architecture of Dakar, Senegal, at Tate Liverpool in 2003. In 2007, she was commissioned to create a public art installation for the London Underground at Terminal 4, Heathrow Airport and produced a work titled, Piccadilly’s Peccadilloes.
Rut frequently contributes to a range of discursive platforms. In 2012 she was a guest on The Forum: Night - Friend or Foe, a programme produced by BBC World Service, while in 2013 she participated in the event, Photography and the Ethnographic Archive, at the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt.
Current and recent projects
London Dust (2011–13) is a series of photographs and a film that trace the rapid architectural transformation of the City of London. The photographs continue Blees Luxemburg’s on-going research into urban aesthetics and the representation of contemporary cities. Reflecting on the ‘lumicity’ of each location, the work projects the hidden tensions and desires that affect the shaping of the future city.
Photographs from London Dust are featured in photomonitor with an essay by Blees Luxemburg titled ‘Space and Light’. Selected works were shown in the publication New Narrative at the Digital Art Center, Taipei (2011). Other exhibitions where this work has been shown include Dérives et des Rêves, Chateau d’Oiron, France (2012) which brought together the utopian architectural works of Archigram, OMA, Coop Himmelblau in relation to artists’ representation of future cities.
Blees Luxemburg will present this research in a paper, London Apex – Urban Photography between Construction and Vision, as part of a symposium at the School of Architecture at the University of Frankfurt.
Objects of Desire in an Ethnographic Collection – Research in the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt
The research investigated the Museum’s ethnographic collection and image archive, with Blees Luxembourg conducting fieldwork in its stores and archives. Historically, photography has played an important part in the representation of foreign cultures, and these photographic records speak of the complexities of the colonial, as well as the ethnographic, gaze. The group research analysed the different ways in which ‘tribal art’ and ethnographic objects have been staged in studio photography, as well as the systems and categories with which the Museum operates to store and accumulate its archive and collection. The exhibition focused on the research aspect of the investigation, and included work in progress, books and other related research materials.
A further selection of the photographic works, made by Rut Blees Luxemburg during her research, will be shown in the exhibition Foreign Exchange – field report of an ethnographic collection at the Weltkulturen Museum in January 2014, accompanied by a publication with texts by ethnographers, historians and social anthropologists.
Blees Luxemburg’s survey exhibition Lustgarten presented large-scale photographs exploring global cities such as London, Dakar, Santiago and New York. The work investigates how to develop an alternative reading of urban space, through focusing on mnemonic fragments and luminous compositions, which de-construct established representations of the urban realm.
A catalogue, including texts in German and English by art historian Anne Hoffmann and sociologist Richard Sennett, was published in conjunction with the exhibition.
Blees Luxemburg developed the ideas that underpinned Lustgarten at conferences including: Yingxiang Today (Shadow Image), Fifth Annual Conference of CCVA, The Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing and China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, China (2011); Photography and The City, University of Westminster, London (2011); Exhibiting Photography, International Conference, University of Westminster, London (2011); Photography and the Practice of Walking, Urban Encounters, Goldsmiths College London (2010).
This monograph is a comprehensive survey of the work of Rut Blees Luxemburg covering the period 1995-2009. Thematic passages reconfigure Blees Luxemburg’s practice and include the artists forays into opera and public art. The title ‘Commonsensual’ refers to Blees Luxemburg’s interest into an understanding of the city that is formed by the sensory and sensual qualities of an urban perception, such as intensities of light, sensuality of surfaces and the proximity of the ground.
Publications, exhibitions, other outcomes
Selected Public Art Installations
(2018) #the lesson of the vine, Leiwen/Mosel, Germany
(2016) Silver Forest, Westminster City Hall, London
(2015) The Teaser, Courtyard, Somerset House, London,
(2007) Piccadilly’s Peccadilloes, Heathrow Terminal 4, Platform for Art, London
(1998) Caliban Towers, com. muf architects, Old Street, London
Selected Solo Exhibitions
(2014) London Dust, Museum of London, London, 2014/15
(2012) Lustgarten, Stadtmuseum Simeonstift, Trier, Germany
(2004) Liebeslied/My Suicides (opera), ICA, London
(2004) ffolly, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
(2003) Phantom, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool
(2008–2009) Normandie – voyages pittoresques, photographic commission by Le Point du Jour, Cherbourg, France
(2007) Piccadilly’s Peccadilloes – Public art Installation in Heathrow Airport, commissioned by Platform for Art
Selected Group Exhibitions
London Nights, Museum of London
A Handful of Dust, Whitechapel Gallery, London
À Pied D’œuvre(s), 40 years of the Centre Pompidou, Monnaie De Paris, Paris
Comme une histoire, Musee Malraux, Le Havre
Territoires rêvés, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen, France
Icarus Project, Espace KUU, Taisho University, Tokyo, Japan
No Fun Without EU: Artists in Common, 4Cose, London
Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick, Somerset House, London,
A Needle walks into a Haystack, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial
Foreign Exchange, Weltkulturen Museum Frankfurt, Germany
Observers, Photographers of the British Scene from the 1930’s to Now, British Council exhibition, Galeria de Arte do Sesi, Sao Paulo, Brazil
New Narrative, Digital Arts Centre, Taipei, Taiwan
Prix Découverte des Rencontres d’Arles, France,
elles @ centrepompidou, Centre Pompidou, Paris
In Limbo, Denver Art Museum, USA
A Bigger Splash: British Art from Tate, Oca, Sao Paulo
Where Are We? Questions of Landscape, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Potent Present, CCAC Institute, San Francisco, USA
Modern Times I, Hasselblad Center, Gotheborg, Sweden
Remix: Images photographiques, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, France
De Très Courts Espaces de Temps, Biennale de l’Image, Paris
Sightings, ICA, London
Public Relations, New British Photography, Stadthaus Ulm
Never Walk Alone, Photographers' Gallery, London
Desiring Practices, RIBA/Shepherd’s Walk, London
Blees Luxemburg, R. (ed.) (2014) Science & Fiction, London: Black Dog
Blees Luxemburg, R. (ed.) (2013) Waving Flags, (Photography and Translation), London: Black Dog
Blees Luxemburg, R. (ed.) (2012) Seeing for Others, 2012, London: Black Dog
Blees Luxemburg, R. (ed.) (2011) Hardcover – Image Perspectives, London: Black Dog
Blees Luxemburg, R.; Nancy, J-L; Garcia Duttmann, A. and Richon, Olivier (eds.) (2010) Picking Up – Bouncing Back, London: RCA
Blees Luxemburg, R.; García Düttmann, A.; English, S. (2014) The Academic Year, London: SPBH Editions
Durand, R.; Park, D. and García Düttman, A. (2009) Commonsensual: The Works of Rut Blees Luxemburg, London: Black Dog Publishing
Lynch, P.; Park, D. and Wyn Evans, C. (2003) ffolly, ffotogallery/Glynn Vivian
García Düttmann, A. (1999) Liebeslied/My Suicides, London: Black Dog Publishing
Bracewell, M. (1997) London – A Modern Project, London: Black Dog Publishing
Selected Conferences, Talks and Debates
Ten Ideas for the London Public Space Charter in the Night Time, A Manifesto for Darkness by Rut Blees Luxemburg, Architecture Foundation, London Garden Museum
#the lesson of the vine by Rut Blees Luxemburg, Extra City Kunsthal, Antwerpen, Belgium
Rut Blees Luxemburg on Public Art and Public Space, The Exchange Floor, Croydon
A Question of Colour (round table discussion with David Campany and Lucas Blalock for Paris Photo), Grand Palais, Paris
Notes on the Index: Photograph, Trace, Subject, Whitechapel Gallery, London
Schools: What’s Next? with Rut Blees Luxemburg, Tom Hunter and Bruno Ceschel, chaired by William A. Ewing, Photo London, London
Speaking in Brogues: Marina Warner in conversation with Rut Blees Luxemburg, Maria Aristodemou and Mattia Gallotti, Birkbeck College, London
How to Create Magic: an Artist’s View, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Gordon Cheung, Wendy McMurdo, DACS, London
Rut Blees Luxemburg, Prix Pictet Conversations on Photography, Whitechapel Gallery
Rut Blees Luxemburg in Conversation with Joy Gerrard on Crowds, Precarious Freedom and Black Ink, PEER, London
(re:)Thinking the Street, Urban Encounters Conference, Tate Britain, Keynote
London’s Squats and Counterculture: 1970s to Now, panel debate with Peter Doig, Rut Blees Luxemburg, Viv Albertine & Jimmy Cauty, chaired by Neal Brown, ICA, London
Data and Desire, Michael Salu & Rut Blees Luxemburg, London Literary Festival, SouthBank Centre, London
London and the Narrative of the City Space, Tim Marlow and Rut Blees Luxemburg, Photo London, Somerset House, London
Blees Luxemburg's work has been widely written about, with recent scholarly treatments including:
Collard, D (2016) 'Michelangelo Antonioni’s Plot Development', TLS -The Times Literary Supplement, London http://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/swinging-sixties-focus/
Nancy, J-L. and Garcia Duttmann, A. (2014) 'London Dust, Rut Blees Luxemburg, London' frieze.com
Sassen, S. C. (2011) 'Strategic Geographies, Challenge of their Visualization', Mutations, Perspectives On Photography, Germany: Steidl
Poivert, M. (2010) La Photographie Contemporaine, Paris: Flammarion
Campany, David (ed.) (2003) Art and Photography, London: Phaidon
Silver Forest is a permanent large-scale public work installed in 2016 on the western façade of Westminster City Hall. The project, realised in collaboration with Lynch Architects, brings together art, architecture, urban planning and design innovation.
Running the length of Westminster City Hall, the seven-metre-tall artwork depicts six photographic views of nocturnal, urban silver birch forests in locations from London to Beijing, which draw attention to the fragile relationship between nature and the city.
FILET – a Space for Experimental Art Production
FILET is a space for experimental art production in the vicinity of the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ of Old Street. Founded in 2015 with Uta Kogelsberger, FILET is a physical space in a local neighbourhood, where ideas on art and art production are tested out. FILET works like a research laboratory: artists with different practices are invited to the space to realise exhibitions, readings and performances, to engage with different audiences and to develop sustainable strategies for producing, disseminating and showing contemporary art.
Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt
Rut Blees Luxemburg has developed a group research project at the Weltkulturen Museum in conjunction with the Photography Programme of the Royal College of Art. Selected students, Ph.d candiates and alumni as well as Professor Olivier Richon were researching in the museum’s object collection and photographic archive. The outcome of the group research was exhibited at the Weltkulturen Museum’s Green Room project space in 2013 under the title Scharf belichtet - Objects of desire in ethnographic collections. Selected works from the research project will be shown in a major exhibition opening at the Weltkulturen Museum in January 2014, entitled Foreign Exchange – field report from an ethnographic collection.