The theme of the 2015 Hamburg Triennale of Photography is “The Day Will Come.” Across the city, exhibition halls, galleries and old warehouses have been re-purposed to examine the question of the future—in photography, and in general.
Below, we share one of our favorite discoveries from the festival, the work of German photographer Henrik Spohler. Using photography, Spohler seeks answers to the world’s biggest questions: “How is our world connected?” “What goes into modern fabrication?” “Where does our food come from?” With his camera, Spohler seeks to create unerring knowledge, to offer a vision of the incomprehensible.
We have included the text for one of his three projects below. We highly recommend seeing the work in person at the Hamburg Triennale. The prints, as you can imagine, are immense and breath-taking. Here, we offer just a small preview.
Never before have commodities been shifted so fast and so far around the world as they are being today. A T-shirt from Taiwan, felt slippers from Tyrol, wine from Australia—ordered today and delivered to your door tomorrow. Even the individual ingredients for a tub of strawberry yoghurt, when taken together, have already covered several thousand kilometres before landing on the refrigerated shelf of a local supermarket. How is this possible? What infrastructure does it require?
Henrik Spohler’s most recent project takes us into that difficult-to-access intermediate realm of logistics where commodities are transhipped at an ever increasing speed: the freight areas of airports, the labyrinths of railway tracks in large shunting yards, the warehouses of international haulage contractors, the container terminals of sea ports. Photographed in six different countries, these special zones, streamlined for ruthless efficiency, develop an aesthtic of their very own that oscillates between clear structure, an almost meditative monotony and a gigantism the sheer dimensions of which often go beyond man’s powers of imagination.
In these places, all individuality has been rationalised away; it is scarcely possible to say whether the scenario is in Europe or Asia. Here, consumer society has created itself a seemingly fictional nameless realm of pure functionality.