Wreckless Abandon - Bernhard Fuchs' "Autos" at the Jack Hanley Gallery

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Monday 13 September 2010.

Wreckless Abandon - Bernhard Fuchs' "Autos" at the Jack Hanley Gallery

by Colin Drucker

The site of an abandoned car at the side of the road immediately asks the question: “What happened?” As bystanders, which Bernhard Fuchs very effectively makes of his audience with his photo series “Autos,” we begin to fill in the story.

A sedan, rusted at the wheel wells, with windows almost too grimy to see into, sits alone off a country road. The surrounding landscape suggests nowhere to go but onward towards civilization. Minor details—the way the car is turned to the right just slightly, the absence of even a nearby building or sign—force us as the audience to come to some startling conclusions. It is Fuchs’ simplicity, his almost gentle considerations of his landscape, angles, light, and of course his subjects themselves, that is so entirely effective in this exhibit, which opened on September 3rd 2010 at the Jack Hanley Gallery in Tribeca, and will be showing through October 2nd 2010.

Fuchs’ photos appear like crime scenes, with all proof of the crime absent or, perhaps more likely, hidden, somewhere out of the frame, out of the moment captured, and all that remains is the vehicle that has brought our imaginary story’s protagonist to or from what happened. That being said, the intention to appear sinister or even apocalyptic—which these photos accomplish so startlingly well—could all be a figment of perception as well.

We can not think of the car without the driver. Photos appearing deep in the countryside—particularly one haunting image of a car parked off a dirt road at the barred entrance of a forest—ask the question, “Where did the driver go?” but photos in more urban environments—the station wagon left remaining in an otherwise empty parking lot—force us to ask, “When will the driver be back?” A van parked on the side of a suburban road—the glimpse of the side of a house hidden behind the trees as a relief of humanity’s existence in Fuchs’ world—recalls some childhood danger, a neighborhood predator lurking just around the corner, threatening to snatch you away into the windowless nobody-quite-knows of the back of the van.

Fuchs, an Austrian photographer currently living and working in Dusseldorf, took his inspiration from cars he would spot on bike tours in the countryside, and became fascinated by the subjects themselves, once of course he had ascertained that the owners were nowhere to found. (What happened?) “From then on,” he explains, "I started to regard these abandoned cars in the scenery as if they were actors on a stage and started to collect their wit and tragedy.”

The Jack Hanley Gallery, nestled in a cinematically quaint cobblestoned nook of Tribeca, is an ideal location for Fuchs’ haunting exhibit. The quietude of the photos is scored by the distant sound of traffic whizzing by on the West Side Highway, and the occasional honk of a commuter inching his way into the Holland Tunnel on Hudson St, with no hope of abandonment.

“Autos” – Bernhard Fuchs
Jack Hanley Gallery
136 Watts St (between Washington St & Greenwich St)
New York, NY 10013
9/3/10 – 10/2/10
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm