EXHIBITION Sep 30 — Dec 12, 2006
Götz Diergarten (born in 1972) was one of Bernd Becher’s last students at the Academy in Düsseldorf, which makes Diergarten a representative of the Becher school’s “grandchild generation”. Diergarten is also one of the most important and exciting young German photographers working today. KICKEN
BERLIN is hosting the premier exhibition of Diergarten’s newest work cycle, “England”. Approximately 20 works will be shown: photographs taken between 2003 and 2005 during Diergarten’s trips to document the English coast.
Götz Diergarten’s typological approach continues in the grand tradition of the Becher school of photography. Yet American color photographers such as William Eggleston or Stephen Shore have also influenced his work. Furthermore, Diergarten’s distilled views of the public spaces of everyday life and culture reveal an artistic affinity with Walker Evans, Albert Renger-Patzsch, and Werner Mantz. Diergarten’s oeuvre is a remarkable demonstration of the artist’s success in finding and developing a personal artistic language while staying true to his core thematic interests.
The “England” series exhibited at Kicken Berlin presents his photographic method newly field-tested: after documenting architecture found along the European beaches of the Atlantic coast, Diergarten here directs his aesthetic interests toward seaside resorts in England, focusing on their architecture
and on artificially constructed spaces. He approaches his subject matter in a new way, sacrificing his rigorous frontal perspective when aesthetically necessary. This is apparent in the image “o.T.2 (Broadstairs-Joss Bay)” from 2003: the traces of weathering seen in the house, together with the lines from a parking lot, create a pattern that - along with the colors reflecting in a puddle on the asphalt – imbues this seemingly everyday image with a painterly quality.
Intrinsic to typologies is the use of the series, and in Diergarten’s “England” cycle, this device is used to great effect to accentuate the extraordinary atmosphere of the English resorts, the benches and shelters - just the type of artificially created spaces to serve as a stage for forming new perspectives. In what might be called a “view from the back”, the onlooker is positioned behind empty benches, gazing along with them off into the distant sea. In the way
they pick up on the tradition of artificial vantage points found in 18th and 19th century landscaped English gardens, such scenes are reminiscent of Romantic period paintings by artists such as William Turner or Caspar David Friedrich. In this way, Götz Diergarten explores a theme that is both “English” and timeless, and he does it in a way all his own: quietly questioning, painterly, and impartial all at the same time. Even the size of his prints, approximately 75 x 100 cm, is reminiscent of the format found in classical paintings.
The timeless charm of these beach spaces – lookouts and shelters, benches and beach buildings – comes to the fore. The benches, scenic in and of themselves, invite us to stay and have a look at the coastal landscape, just as they too seem to be in waiting. The shelters, too, seem to be in a state of waiting. The timeless character of this place inscribes itself into the still painterliness of the image.
Included are also views across the Channel, with “Portel-Plage” and “Calais” presenting impressions of the opposite coastline. Colorful and cryptically witty, these views serve not only as a contrast to the “England” images, but also, in their own way, to round the series out.
The heterogeneous quality of the “England” series is so fascinating because these images were clearly made as a response to, and as a photographic representation of, the particular characteristics of these English places. Single pictures are hung alongside typology groupings and both are combined with works that tie in to Diergarten’s earlier work, “Fassaden und Typographien”. The result is a thoroughly English cycle of photographs, whose tongue-in-cheek reference to the Romantic period, and whose seemingly everyday character, make them both moving and extraordinary. (Mareike Stoll)