Environmental Nuances

Environmental Nuances

In a new exhibition at SK Stiftung Kultur der Sparkasse KölnBonn, three artists from Germany, the UK and Italy come together to document their impressions of the shared spaces of landscape, nature and architecture. Presented together here for the first time, Laurenz Berges (b. 1966), Michael Collins (b. 1961) and Paola De Pietri (b. 1960) are united by an interest in the environment’s subtle changes, which are explored in Tracing Transformations through large-format photographs taken close to their respective homes or studios.

Themes of intuition, decomposition, dissolution and change circulate between all three bodies of work, which despite their formal documentary properties are contemplative and conceptual in character, refusing to provide any easy answers or conclusions. In Laurenz Berges’ images, post-war townhouses in Germany’s Ruhr region accompany ambiguous deserted locations and abandoned domesticated spaces where nature breaks through the cracks. Time seems to stand still in these meditative shots, which encourage a lingering and curious gaze.

A similarly paced approach is found in the work of Michael Collins, who offers a selection of photographs from three different areas of his practice in the show. Images taken of the Hoo Peninsula reveal the strange and unsettling qualities of this bit of land that protrudes into the Thames Estuary. This was the landscape that Charles Dickens used to set the convict’s escape in Great Expectations and it is in Collins’ beautifully textured prints that the decaying remnants of Victorian industry are pictured in melancholic and surreal detail.

Meanwhile, Paola De Pietri’s escorts the viewer to the northern Italian Po Basin in the Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, and Veneto regions of Italy. Captured between 2014 and 2017, these pieces form part of the Questa Piannura series and uncover buildings from former farms that have since fallen into ruin. The trees surrounding the structures live on as natural relics and testimonies to the economic, social and cultural history of the land, which is depicted here with a ghostly black and white aesthetic. With backgrounds seeped in mist and fog, De Pietri denotes a cold and less colourful season, elegiacally emphasising the motif of time passing that run throughout the exhibition.

Until 8 July. Find out more here.

Celia Graham-Dixon

1. Paola De Pietri: Untitled, 2014, from the series Questa Pianura, (detail) © Paola De Pietri.