Verena Landau’s »passover« series is more than a static depiction of absent society; it also aims to produce an experience of that missing society, or to put it another way: it produces the experience that society is still missing. The very staging of the paintings that make up the series is intended to make the viewer experience the works not as discrete entities but rather as a single, unified, dynamic act. Strangely then, the separateness of the six paintings falls away in the experience that unifies them, but only in passing. Landau wants passover’s title to be taken literally: it embodies the command to walk past it. In this way it already alludes to its own inability to be a fixed and substantial thing. And therein lies one of its most compelling aspects. Its beauty is the beauty of a society whose absence can be glimpsed in the fleeting residues of vacant escalators, airports, parking garages, revolving doors – empty spaces of transition.
They are places we partially or fleetingly occupy on our way to some other place. They are places that are located between destinations and thereby evoke the transitory and unfinished space that a fully present and arrived society ought to occupy. This is the beauty of absent society.
—By Tom Huhn
In: Verena Landau, Passages, Passengers, Places, Hirmer Verlag München, 2013, p. 60
Source [excerpt]: Tom Huhn, in: Still Missing: Beauty Absent Social Life [exh. cat. New York School of Visual Arts], New York City 2006.
Prof. Tom Huhn
Philosopher /AB, Sarah Lawrence College, New York /MA, PhD, Boston University
Professor /Chair of the Art History Department at the New York School of Visual Arts
Author; lives and works in New York and Rome