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If it weren’t just a formula with which people greet each other who haven’t met in some time, we might take the title long time no sea at its word: crossing the United States by car, from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, you really won’t see the sea for a long time. So the pictures show motifs from inland America instead, areas obscurely referred to as the “Bible” or “Rust belt” by the media and associated with unbridled conservatism and the ravaged infrastructure of yesteryear’s Fordism.
Volker Renner’s 220-page book presents a collection of interior and exterior shots whose shared feature is his interest in the striking close-up. See, for example, the bible on the housekeeping cart at a hotel, its edge adorned with the words “PRAISE ‘BOB’ ATHEISTS MAKE BETTER LOVERS” (which is presumably why it’s being removed from circulation). The book’s pages teem with repairs of questionable workmanship, frost-damaged floors, water spots and burn marks, tufts of grass caught in car doors—in short, it is not least importantly a meditation on design: how in the world will hotel bedspreads ever be made to harmonize with the matching wall-to-wall carpet, or conversely, how is one supposed to bear the aesthetic insult of such combinations?
Long Time No See speaks to a special cognitive ability of the brain: the fact that we haven’t even noticed the water spots on the ceiling of our own apartment in five years. And so we might exclaim “long time no see!” in amazement when we absent-mindedly gape at the ceiling and suddenly rediscover the spots caused by our upstairs neighbor’s spills, or find ourselves staring at the deep grooves in the TV set’s plastic housing that we cannot explain, or spot the scratches in the laminate flooring we made when we moved the wardrobe months ago. Eye-insulting combinations, too, are everywhere, but we don’t see them, the brain goes easy on us, it spares us the stress that would come with facing these vaguely dissolute, but also anarchically poetic, scenes that nothing short of a deep cleaning and renovation could remedy. We don’t need to travel to America: we are surrounded by such motifs, only we’re more apt to see them in Volker Renner’s photographs than in our own homes.
Published by Volker Renner and Textem Verlag
240 x 280 mm