Laurenz Berges’s photographs exemplify notions of memory and place, the “that-has-been” about which Roland Barthes spoke so eloquently in his seminal text on photography, Camera Lucida (1980), as well as the mainstays that account for our continued fascination with the photographic medium at a time when it is being threatened by new digital technologies. Upon initial viewing, the images in Berges’s current project qualify more accurately as non-places, the kind of nondescript, generic locales that each of us has experienced — in the mundaneness of our everyday lives, in the stills we extract from films, in the further reaches of our subconscious — and that remain ever present, ready to call up from our visual memory banks at a moment’s notice. That Berges has preserved a few such places from his immediate environs in Düsseldorf and North Rhine-Westphalia in crisp, accurate color images that seem vaguely familiar even to the viewer who has never actually traversed these sites underscores the universality of photographic depiction on the one hand and, on the other, the subjectivity of viewing.
Location: Cloppenburg, Germany
Text: Virginia Heckert, Places remembered, 1997