In Goethe’s poem Weltseele (World Soul) we read: »Nun glühen schon des Paradieses Weiten/ in überbunter Pracht« (Now the expanses of Paradise already glow/ in over-colourful splendour). And what is it that animates our modern industrial society, what is its fiery nucleus? Henrik Spohler’s images provide a possible answer: machines. Over a period of six years he looked around high-tech factories, among endless assembly lines and strange apparatuses. What is manufactured in such places is seldom anything mysterious, but mostly mundane: beer, plasters, computer chips, frozen pizza. The merciless precision of Spohler’s photographs makes a lot more out of them than mere documentation: thanks to the choice of frame and with the help of light and coloration, plus careful digital post-processing, they take on a kind of hyper-reality, becoming a portrayal of the World Soul that is always fictional as well, constructed by the photographer. Yet they also reveal a principle: the factory as the wellspring of modernism, as a »metal uterus« (Bazon Brock), constantly giving birth to the new. In this global machine room, man is just a tiny, marginal figure – he may well have conceived and constructed that space, but only so as to no longer be required in it. Whether that is something to be regretted or whether it represents progress is an open question. And however detailed the photographs may be, they are never ideological. They document the great ambiguity of those »expanses of Paradise« which man has created for himself.
Text by Christof Siemes, english/german,
96 pages, 41 colour plates, hardcover, 30,5 x 24,5 cm,
Peperoni Books, ISBN 978-3-9809677-9-2