"Early on, the photographer Laurenz BERGES was interested in special places in Germany which history seems to left out or have passed over. Laurenz BERGES 'regular preoccupation with the Ruhr area resulted in pictures of the north of the city of Duisburg. He shows himself spellbound by a current scene that looks like the opposite side of the present. The pictures convey an artistic intensity that makes them shine in a peculiar way. "
from press text Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop
Around 1960, Duisburg was still a lively industrial city with a high quality of life.
It was one of them German cities with the highest per capita income. Their economic basis formed theHeavy industry, the plants of which lined up like a string of pearls along the Rhine. The port, located around the confluence of the Ruhr and Rhine, formed the actual lifeline of the city: It gave it center and support.
Today, as everywhere in the Ruhr area, the consequences of the industrial structural change that was introduced too late cannot be overlooked. The infrastructure is ailing, the city is heavily indebted and can no longer afford the costs of their actual tasks.
Also the terrain that Laurenz Berges has patiently explored in Duisburg over the past few years, is marked by this profound misery. He has mostly found himself in those parts of the city which were previously locations of heavy industry. A general decline of urban qualities is evident. However, these pictures are never about a specific representation of undesirable social developments. Berges is more interested in how things in the picture can be made to speak in order to make a dimension of experience comprehensible:
Interiors, details of architecture, fragments of nature, a few people.
In Duisburg he found images of a void filled with a fundamental silence. The light and the silence are their messengers. The soft daylight fills the rooms with intangible volume. The dullness of the colors makes them appear all the more intense because they are not more surface appearance, but how bodies are. In these photographs there is a slowness of observation that is carried over to our contemplation.
Life in his alleged loss is halted and finds fulfillment in the present.
Berges' pictures describe a way inwards. It's not just about the representation of the
external phenomena that characterize a cityscape, but rather an existential dimension.
How are we in the world? The photographic recording of life passing in constant cycles is the central theme of his art. In his photographs, the scenery in Duisburg announces a transience and melancholy that is inherent in human life.
Silence alone is countered by that dimension of pictorial beauty, which is in the light and realized in the colors.