VISIBLE CITIES

In late 1991, in the wake of German unification, I returned to Berlin for two months photographing the city and collecting material for the exhibition Zeitmauer [too literally translated 'time-wall'] that opened at the London Goethe Institut in Spring 1992 and later travelled to Berlin & Gera in the former German Democratic Republic [DDR]. As a result, and only after much deliberation and self-critique of the 'documentary' content of my material, 'Visible Cities' emerged as a representation of the city [especially this city] as an unstable subject. Berlin is by no means a describable place - not one city, not even two, but many.

 

Goethe Institut, London 1992
The 'cities' - face-laminated 1.5x1.0m [60x42in] blue-toned silver prints - are stretched and floated off the wall with simple hardware. Their individual names are borrowings from Italo Calvino's 'Invisible Cities':

Eusopia | Laudomia | Isidora | Penthesilia | Eudoxia | Diomira

Here as in that book, descriptions of external phenomenae such as cities are deemed to represent more precisely the notion of a complex interior space - the subjectivity of the reporter.

In the studio, my original material and other images of Berlin were overlayed onto three-dimensional constructions of consumed plastic containers and rephotographed. The familiar space of conventional architectural imagery was thus warped with unlikely or impossible perspectives, but also by the apparently absurdist element of the plastic debris.

From my point-of-view however, the designed spaces of architecture and of consumer packaging are not incongruent - both indexing the way consumption-culture conceives and incorporates space as commodifiable units. Visitors to the ruins of our time will more easily recognise this congruency.

In 'Visible Cities' the sublime illusion of historic or futuristic Utopias appears questionable; Dystopian examples [like cardboard cities] are more likely.

Graham Budgett