Jörn Vanhöfen, “Ford Street # 5782”, 2012 (Detail) C-Print
Jörn Vanhöfen takes photos on the crisis: harbingers of a post-industrial age. The first works in the Disturbia series arose in the Northern states of the USA in Detroit and the surrounding area between 2008 and 2012. Others, taken in Egypt and India, for example, will follow. After the success of his series and book, Aftermath, Jörn Vanhöfen experimented, in his new series, with the classical photographic moment of the instant and a serial succession of pictures. With this conceptual approach, he is going beyond his previous works, which were very much geared to the individual picture. His latest works adopt a distinctly cinematic approach: an overall situation is accompanied by successive single images taken from different angles, in which each shot adds a further fragment to the scene. If we examine the individual works more closely, the situations begin to decipher themselves picture by picture (Indianapolis Ave Chicago # 2252), or come together piece by piece to form a greater whole (Michigan Ave Detroit # 2282). Individual pictures also appear in the Disturbia series, only this time they alternate with the cinematic sequences. The individual shots are of momentary character and stand alone. In Vanhöfen's eyes, the metaphorical power of these images is more important than any documentary evidence they might deliver.
The title of the series is a neologism comprising the English expression to disturb = to disrupt, interrupt, upset and Suburbia = hinterlands, urban surroundings, a film by Penelope Speehris (1984). It also conveys some idea of the atmosphere in these works. In an area shaken by crises, with people forced out onto the periphery, and urban space left to omnipresent decline, Vanhöfen does not show urban centres alone, but fates. In the film sequences, the viewer follows the restless eye of the photographer, who constantly captures ever new aspects of the situation. In Ford Street # 5782, we find ourselves looking at a street corner: in front of a liquor store, someone is sitting on a metal crate in a display of defiant pride, their eyes attracted to a pair of bright green trousers: hands, formed by life. Suddenly, we become aware of the surrounding people: a man in a wheelchair riding unperturbed up and down the street; a couple goes off, holding hands. Silent observations that run like a thread through the entire series, reporting the daily struggle in the crisis.
Jörn Vanhöfen was born in 1961. He lives in Berlin and Cape Town.
He studied photography at the Folkwang School in Essen, before switching universities from West to East Germany in the midst of the political-social turbulence in December 1989. He was subsequently a master-class pupil at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig. During the next two years, he held solo exhibitions at venues in Germany and Austria, including the Alfred-Erhardt Foundation in Berlin in 2014, and the FO.KU.S, Innsbruck. In 2015, he will be exhibiting at the Opelvillen Rüsselsheim, the VHS Photogalerie, Stuttgart, and the Museum Haus Ludwig, Saarlouis.
Parallel to the exhibition at the Kuckei + Kuckei gallery, a book entitled Heimat Front will be appearing in a limited edition, with texts by Charles Simic and works by Jörn Vanhöfen, at the Reche Verlag publishing house.