From the vantage point of large and ornate theaters, art primarily takes place on stage where the events that transpire are imaginary. Invert this vantage point, however, and you will find that the true spectacle may lie in these baroquely and meticulously designed theaters.
Photographer Klaus Frahm, in his series The Fourth Wall, does exactly this. By removing his gaze from the theater to the stage, the contrast between utilitarian necessities onstage and the romantic gold hues of European theaters is pointedly apparent. Frahm’s series creates an ethereal layering of images that complicates our ideas of what exactly is spectacle—the theater that exists in our plane of reality or the dark, cold, empty stage?
The Baroque period of art and architecture, roughly from the 16th century to the 18th century, emphasized a certain gaudy grandeur meant to produce drama, as seen in the above photograph. Intricately designed theaters and opera houses naturally sprung from this new artistic and intellectual movement movement. Partially an exultation of God and partially a means to demonstrate Europe’s new colonial wealth, the baroque period blurred the lines between otherworldly grandeur and the banality of everyday life. The spectacle began when you walked into one of these revamped cultural institutions; where else, other than the church, are angels fantastically depicted on the walls and devils portrayed alive on the stage? The harmonious nature of the stage and the theater that produces these works gave rise to a new term: theatrum mundi or the world is a stage. Frahm, in his series The Fourth Wall, eagerly demonstrates this maxim.
To see more of Klaus Frahm’s work, click here.