MACHINES À PENSER Exhibition at Fondazione Prada, Venice and essay in exhibition publication: Three art works and one essay

Mark Riley (Photographer)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


Machines à Penser – Fondazione Prada, Venice 26/05 - 25/11/2018

Mark Riley, 300-word statement (Three scale dioramas)

The submission consists of three artworks. These are 1:76 scale dioramas depicting isolated buildings used by three philosophers for the purpose of retreat, thinking and writing: Ludwig Wittgenstein’s hut at Skjolden, Martin Heidegger’s hut at Todtnauberg and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s cabin at Ermenonville. Riley made the dioramas over a period of two years. Their construction was informed by a combination of extensive research on the writings of the three philosophers, in-depth study of the history of the buildings, and extensive on-site investigation of the locations in which they were situated. He sought, through their scale reconstruction, to reinterpret and recontextualise these significant yet largely inaccessible places in the history of philosophy for a contemporary audience, and to investigate the relationship in the work of these philosophers between exile, escape and retreat, and the physical or mental places that favour reflection, thought and intellectual production. The dioramas reimagine Wittgenstein and Rousseau’s cabins, which no longer exist, as architectural components within a landscape, and reconstruct Heidegger’s hut, which still stands in altered form, as it would have been during the period in which Heidegger used it. The dioramas were selected by curator Dieter Roelstraete for inclusion in the international MACHINES À PENSER exhibition at Fondazione Prada, Venice from May-November 2018. In addition, Riley was commissioned to contribute an essay (also included in this submission), ‘Thinking Place: Heidegger at Todtnauberg and Wittgenstein at Skjolden’, to the book that was published to coincide with the exhibition. Here he pursues further his investigation of the relationship between architectural space, isolated geographical location, and the production of thought. The high-profile exhibition, which explored the theme of mind and culture with particular reference to the relationship between space and thought, formed part of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018, which attracted over 250,000 visitors.

Mark Riley, January 2019
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMilan and Venice, Italy
PublisherFondazione Prada
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2018
EventMachines à Penser – Fondazione Prada, Venice 26/05 - 25/11/2018 - Fondazione Prada, Ca' Corner della Regina, Santa Croce 2215, 30135 Venice, Venice, Italy
Duration: 26 May 201825 Nov 2018


  • Place, Space, Retreat, Exile, Art Work, Exhibition, Thinking

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