Arina Dähnick: The Mies Project

City life and urbanity, the contrasts of inside and outside, of blurriness and focus, reflections and mirror images, playing with the viewer’s perception — these are the pictorial themes of the Berlin-based photo artist Arina Dähnick which she processed into her architectural portraits of buildings by Mies van der Rohe.

The exhibition of the international exhibition project was installed on the technical floor of Villa Tugendhat in the spring of 2020. Its presentation was interrupted due to the closure of the villa because of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, we bring you a unique video capturing the installed exhibition on the technical floor of the Tugendhat Villa through the eyes of cameraman Jiří Zykmund. The video is narrated by the voice of the author Arina Dähnick, describing the genesis of the entire international exhibition project.


City life and urbanity, the contrasts of inside and outside, of blurriness and focus, reflections and mirror images, plays with the viewer’s perception — these are the pictorial themes of the Berlin-based photo artist Arina Dähnick. She discovered the architecture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the autumn of 2012, when, after a thunderstorm, she perceived the Neue Nationalgalerie in a both fascinating and paradoxical spatial experience of boundless vastness — and a simultaneous feeling of being held. From then on she photographed the building under various conditions until its closure in 2015, following in Mies van der Rohe’s footsteps from Berlin to Brno, from Chicago to New York. She captured his most famous buildings — including the Villa Tugendhat, the Seagram Building, and the Lake Shore Drive Apartments — in impressive photo series that conveys her creative inspiration as well as the fascinating spatial experience of the architecture itself.

Architectural Portraits. The MIES Project was presented at the S. R. Crown Hall and the Goethe Institut in 2019, parallel to last year’s edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The exhibition will subsequently travel to Barcelona, and Berlin.

„Arina Dähnick brings a new eye to the familiar Mies work, juxtaposing the architecture with reflections in the glass and the play of light. When you look at her work you realize that she posses a high degree of technical ability, and in addition she enriches the experience of the viewer by the emotional feeling expressed in her photographs.”
— Dirk Lohan, architect, principal at Wight & Company and Mies van der Rohe’s grandson

For more information on the project visit:  

The exhibition project was published as a book Arina Dähnick: Architectural Portraits. The MIES Project, which has been awarded the silver medal at German Photo Book 2019|2020. The book can be purchased online here

Arina Dähnick, a photo artist active in the fields of fine arts and architecture, lives and works in Berlin. Having grown up in a creative family, she came into contact with art and photography at an early age. She had her first professional photo exhibition when only 17. When, in 1986, Arina Dähnick resolved not to have to live from her art, this sparked a long pause in her output. The presentation of her work at the Leica Camera Blog 2014 was followed by countless exhibitions as well as publications in newspapers and magazines. She made a name for herself inside and outside Germany and gained a firm place in the international photography scene with her series Perfect LifeContemporary Architecture Barcelona and The MIES Project. When she visits metropolises the world over a legendary Leica M rangefinder camera (an unusual choice for architecture photography) is forever in her hand. There, the artist follows her photographic intuition, selects the angle and distance, the light mood at different times of days and in different seasons, sets the aperture, exposure and focus manually. She adds nothing to the result and consistently foregoes any post-processing that might manipulate the images.

The key themes Arina Dähnick addresses in her pictures are city life and urbanity, reflection and the experience of space, the diametrical opposites of inside and outside, of blurring and acute clarity. Her extraordinary photographic eye penetrates the outer facades in the search for the poetic qualities and mysteries of urban space. With her camera she grasps the soul of the architecture, uses color and lines to create an intimate, sensory experience of the spatial setting. Interlocking image levels initiate a multi-faceted game with reality and generate perspective that straddle outer reality and the imaginative inner eye.

Curators: Lucie Valdhansová, Jana Vránová
Translations: Kateřina Báňová
Graphic design: Atelier Zidlicky 

The exhibition was prepared by the Tugendhat Study and Documentation Centre and was realized with financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.