No Products in the Cart
Volker Renner’s images play with our expectations of what a photograph does. The center of his pictures is often veiled or blank, the angles are unusual, a grand hotel’s back door is more interesting to him than its luxurious façade. As the objects have shifted to the margins of the pictures, so, it seems, has their true subject—but what is that subject? What are his photographs about? Renner works in pairs, arrays, series. His photographic collection assembles surface phenomena and architectonic constellations that attest to the faith that social community can be designed and yet stand as evidence of the disintegration of the public sphere. The categories that guide the artist’s survey of German urban settings and peripheries are diverse, their manifestations overlap. Some pictures trace chronological series, based on a before-andafter effect that emerges when the artist revisits scenes he has captured in earlier photographs.
Spatial and sculptural structures are one area of interest: see, for example, the clusters of benches that mark different kinds of squares. They reflect variations in building codes and the regimentation of human behavior by structures that present a ruinous aspect even when they are first installed. In another instance, a yellow hose leads from one picture to the next. Yet other pictures defy the shared pattern at the moment we think we have unriddled them. What the individual photographs have in common is not readily apparent: it is as elusive as the moments the artist singles out, and undefined like the places where it manifests itself.
Volker Renner’s photographs blur different states of affairs—before and after, unfinished and abandoned, occupied and deserted—in a simultaneity that lends them an almost timeless and universal quality. They offer intimations of the human condition, and yet he is not trying to catalogue the phenomena in question or draw up typologies. In fact, his work humorously calls photography’s very ability to record what is there in question, pointing out that “reality is fundamentally unclassifiable,” as Susan Sontag writes in Objects of Melancholy. Photography, Sontag argues, is the attempt to “sum reality up in an array of casual fragments” in order to get a handle on it. This drive to collect and sort casual fragments of reality is what propels Renner’s photography. By placing them side by side, he uncovers the systems of order that define the environments in which we live and reveals the visual habits that inform our attempt to make sense of reality and imbue it with meaning.
Published by Volker Renner and Textem Verlag
300 x 300 mm