Since the early 1990s, Aglaia Konrad has been developing a photographic approach focused on major urban centres and their outskirts. Somewhere between fascination with and critique of the modernist architectural heritage of the 20th century, the artist stresses the contradiction which exists between dream city and constructed city, and observes the inexhaustible urban variety and the social processes which form it. From her travels throughout the world (Beijing, Cairo, Chicago, Mexico City, Osaka, etc.), she brings back often dizzy-making images, recording the growth of metropolises in the age of globalization. Desert City (1993-2006), in particular, shows the failure of a new city in the middle of the desert on the outskirts of Cairo. She also photographs and films public places, highway systems and unusual buildings. For her, the issues connected with the shot cannot be separated from the way photographs are set in space, both in the framework of exhibitions and publications. Compiled in an archive which includes several thousand photographs, these images are thought of by Aglaia Konrad as moveable and conceptual objects which she puts together in series (Elasticity, Iconocity, Abandoned City, Absent City, Zionist City, Desert City). In her shows and books, she reactivates them in endless combinations: she develops her images in many formats and with varied media, playing with repetition and reversal, and accentuating contradictions, liaisons, and semantic associations. At Kassel for Documenta X (1997), the glass walls of the exhibition pavilion were completely covered with urban views printed on transparent films. By thus comparing represented space and real space, Aglaia Konrad tests the spatial and temporal fixedness of the photograph.
Self-taught to begin with, Aglaia Konrad then studied at the Jan Van Eyck Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht between 1991 and 1992. She came to international notice at Documenta X in Kassel in 1997. Her work has since been shown both in major group exhibitions (including Cities on the Move at PS 1 in New York in 1999, and Spectacular City. Photographing the Future at the NAI in Rotterdam in 2006) and in solo shows. Today, she lives in Brussels where she teaches at the Hogeschool Sint-Lukas. She has produced several publications including Atlas volume I &II. Orbis Terrarum—Ways of Worldmaking (2000); Elasticity, 2002; 12 Cahiers (2004); and Iconocity (2005).