Through the Looking Glass II

New York City

In the performance Through the Looking Glass II, Gerhard Lang employed an instrument in urban surroundings that had been used by landscape artists painting in the countryside in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Called a Claude Lorrain mirror, this device generates an extremely fine mirror image with a darkened and slightly convex lens. In their studies of picturesque motifs the landscape painters were interested less in what was revealed directly before their eyes than in the mirror image, the mediated image of the setting behind their backs. In Lang’s New York work, however, a further factor came into play: movement, walking through the city, and doing so backwards. A large part of this performance consisted of perceiving the city through its mirror image as Lang walked backwards.


The performance passed through West Village in Manhattan. The work was documented along a section of the route between West 11th Street and Astor Place. There was no obvious starting and finishing point.

For more about the Claude Lorrain mirror in Gerhard Lang’s work:
Through the Looking Glass I

Illustrations of several performances:


Ill. I: West 11th Street, corner West 4th Street, 21 October 2012
Ill. II: West 4th Street, corner Charles Street, 23 November 2012
Ill. III: West 4th Street, corner 7th Avenue, 2 October 2012
Ill. IV: 7th Avenue, corner Christopher Street, 23 November 2012
Ill. V: Subway Station Christopher Street, 2 October 2012
Ill. VI: Bedford Street, 21 October 2012
Ill. VII: Intersection Bedford Street and 7th Avenue, 14 September 2012
Ill. VIII: Bedford Street, 14 September 2012
Ill. IX: Bedford Street, corner Downing Street, 14 September 2012
Ill. X: Bleecker Street, corner LaGuardia Place, 21 October 2012
Ill. XI: Lafayette Street, 21 October 2012
Ill. XII: Detail of the map of Lower and Midtown Manhattan: the performance Through the Looking Glass II had no obvious starting or finishing point. It was photographically recorded and filmed from West 11th Street to Astor Place. The performance passed through the area where Lower Manhattan’s original street layout overlaps the regular
grid system introduced in 1811. Here one gets a striking impression of the immense interventions into the original urban fabric needed to connect the grid structure to it.

Photographs: Manfred Reiff


Thanks to:
Lucius und Annemarie Burckhardt Stiftung
Goethe-Institut New York
Hessische Kulturstiftung
Reinhold Engberding
John Tauranac
Professor Dr. Stephan Weyer-Menkhoff


Translation: Matthew Partridge

The film "Through the Looking Glass II"
Director of Photography: Christina Lammer


The Drawing Center in New York presents
online a four-minute excerpt from the film
"Through the Looking Glass II"













Gerhard Lang © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn