Joachim Brohm’s series Culatra, created in Portugal from 2008 to 2010, will be the focus of Kicken Berlin’s fall exhibition. This will be the first time the series has been shown in its entirety in Berlin. Kicken Berlin will also present the similarly named portfolio of 22 images as well as further pictures of Ilha da Culatra off the southern coast of the Algarve.
Brohm first explored Culatra at the encouragement of painter Heribert C. Ottersbach and visited repeatedly over a span of almost three years. The small, sparsely inhabited island manifested transitional spaces in which signs of modest use and infrastructure shape nature: sand pathways, makeshift buildings, vehicles, boats, and seemingly unusable discarded things. On these he affixes his inquisitive and astonished gaze.
Brohm approaches the cabins, rubbish heaps, pathways, facades, and the diverse vehicles on foot in order to portray the subjects from various perspectives: from his typical middle distance, from a wider diagonal angle, and in frontal close-ups. An extensive expanse alternates with detailed abundance in the peopleless images shot consistently around noontime. His usua restrained coloration, also a hallmark of Brohm’s work, radiates here under the southern sun with more contrast, lending the red, yellow, and blue tractors and boats a weighty sculptural presence. In this sense, Culatra opens a new chapter in Brohm’s work: colors and light cause the objects to glow, a celebration of the joy of making photographs.
Culatra clearly takes up the documentary language of a visual inventory. While Brohm’s earlier works drew on motifs he found in the immediate vicinity of his studies in Essen, Germany or Columbus Ohio – captured in the series Kray, Ruhr, and Ohio – his later projects concertedly sought out unspecific, transitory places where the urban meets the rural, such as a Munich industrial district portrayed in the series Areal.
Brohm was one of the first European photographers to combine the aesthetics of the 1970s New American Color and New Topographics movements into his own artistic vision. Forerunners such as Robert Adams, Allan Sekula, and Stephen Shore casually yet bluntly stated changes happening in the realm of the everyday and the environment. Brohm adapted this formal concept of subjective documentary and thus articulates “societal processes in metaphorical images” (Thomas Weski).