I’ve been looking into contemporary artists who have dealt with the concept of the non-place, and found work that I think is worth blogging for contextualisation. ‘Ruhrtal’ by Andreas Gursky is a series of large photographs that deals with the motorway as a non-place of supermodernity. This work is kind of unsettling showing a vast motorway flyover that looms over the almost idyllic green field that lies beneath it. An individual is dwarfed by the gigantic product of supermodernity. It personifies an alienation and a loss of identity with our landscape yet it portrays these premises’ with a certain poetic quality.
Another work that that has offered a new perspective on the idea of the non-place is Wim Wenders’ ‘Safeway’. On the outset this photograph seem to portray something quite gloomy and uninspiring. It shows the back wall of a supermarket and (what I assume is) the employees door for which they enter this non-place. This throws up images’ of anonymity and repetition yet the work has a certain warmth to it. Our attention is drawn to the deep blue sky, the inviting tones’ that radiate from the small yellow doorstep and even the shadowed letters that are created by the sunshine. Wender shows’ the non-place in a different light, he breathes life into the scene as we create our own little narratives to what may have happened on this yellow doorstep. Even though these places have no particular identity Wender metaphorically emphasises the human-ness that exists’ beneath this shield of supermodernity. He makes us look through the non-place. A premise that I find particularly interesting.
Mark Wallingers’ video work ‘Threshold to the Kingdom’ focuses on how we experience the non-place. This work looks’ at the sensations that embody us when we enter, in this case, the airport. A camera is placed in front of the exit for international arrivals. These individuals’ enter with a certain bewilderment, they search for their documentation (an example of identity?) and look to find the right door to continue their journey under the beady eyes of airport security. It shows how we can become emotionally lost among the numbers of all the other transient bodies that inhabit the space.
An artist that I have found whose work looks’ at many different aspects of the non-place is Hans Op de Beeck. One of his works in particular that I found quite inspiring is his installation ‘Location 1’. The scene depicts a desolate landscape of a cross roads consumed by a dull blue light. The traffic lights repeatedly blink through their automated program of red to amber to green and back again even though there is nobody present to obey their commands. This installation is, for me, a more obvious example of what a non-place represents, but it does successfully characterise an environment that has no particular identity. It depicts a state of limbo. I find it quite unsettling.
All these artists’ approach the non-place from different angles. I feel I can take inspiration from this. These works show how the environment can be experienced and portrayed (Gursky, Op de Beeck) and also observes how the individual reacts to this phenomena (Wallinger) Now I want to absorb these works and their intentions’ and try to think about how I am going to approach the non-place from my own perspective. How am I going to go about this subject and create something different? I need to do a LOT more research before I can approach this question, and with that in mind……..back to the Auge.