'Places & Edges'
Brancolini Grimaldi, London
22.03.2012 - 11.05.2013
Brancolini Grimaldi announces the first ever UK solo exhibition by leading German photographer Joachim Brohm. The exhibition will feature work from throughout Brohm’s 30 year career, from early series including Ruhr (1980 - 1983) and Ohio (1983-84) through to more recent projects such as Culatra (2008 - 2010). The exhibition will also include Paradis, an early series, which has never been exhibited in a gallery show before.
Joachim Brohm rose to prominence in the early 1980s and was among the first Europeans of his generation to recognise the artistic power of American photographers including William Eggleston, Robert Adams and Stephen Shore. He was also one of the first photographers in Europe to shoot exclusively in colour starting in the late 1970s, connecting the visual possibilities of colour photography with a newly defined “everyday cultural landscape.” At the same time, Brohm’s sequences of photographs show how important the medium and the artist’s archive have become as reflectors of our day-to-day existence, challenging him to keep developing and reviewing them in the light of changes to the reality of our lives.
Culatra (2008 - 2010), forms the main focus of the exhibition. Culatra is a small, scarcely populated Portugese island on the edge of Europe, unspectacular but exotic in many ways, where solid houses sit next to shoddily built shacks. Brohm has created an archive of the island focusing on its inventory - boats, tractors, shacks, backyards, facades and more, many of which are removed from their original function and context. And despite the beautiful white sand and blue skies, the island looks almost deserted, adding to its sense of abandonment and desolation. Brohm’s pictures confront all this with a vantage point that shifts between overview and detail, distance and closeness. They reveal the hidden inner riches of the imagery of the banal.
In his early series Ruhr (1980 - 1983), we see different types of landscapes in the Ruhr region of Germany, an area undergoing huge change during a process of de-industrialization. Brohm turns his gaze on the edges of urban life, where existence tends to have a rural feel, where shopping-centres and small business zones have established themselves. The erratic settlement of the landscape where the cities burst out of their central structure is one of the interests with which Brohm anticipates the discussion of the ‘urbanization of the landscape’, which only developed around 1990. An elevated camera position is a constant feature in the composition of these pictures, so that we mostly see a larger segment of the landscape stretching out below us. People seem safely at home in it. This familiar, everyday ambience assumes a form of quiet monumentality.
In Ohio (1983-84), made by Brohm during a year long stay as a Fulbright-Scholar in the American city of Columbus, he captures aspects of an urban America not specific to any locale. Both familiarly American (the gas stations, the types of cars, the shops), and unfamiliar (from a car on fire to a deserted drive) Brohm is never trying to show us a documentary representation of reality. Rather these images give us a concept of America at the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s presidency depicting the transience of the American dream and the alienation and isolation related to it.
Throughout his career, Brohm’s work has explored the edges of places as he has sought to capture the on-going and perpetual changes happening in society and how they affect both the landscape and the people in it. It is in the hinterlands, the in-between places, where Brohm finds unexpected moments of hidden poetry, where neglect and decay become an expression of society and emphasise the temporary beauty of much that surrounds us.
© Brancolini Grimaldi