Wreckless Abandon: Abandoned Cars inspire Bernhard Fuchs' photography

Art Press Release from Australia. Published by Rebecca Gabrielle Cannon on Tuesday 28 September 2010.

Grüner VW-Transporte image Weißer Fiat-Bus ( White Fiat Van) image Roter Ford-Bus image Weißer Passat image Gruner VW-Transporter image

Bernard Fuchs at Jack Hanley Gallery, New York

Bernard Fuchs is an Austrian photographer currently living and working in Dusseldorf. For his solo exhibition Autos he took his inspiration from cars which had been abandoned at the side of the road.

Having ascertained that the owners of the cars were nowhere to found, Fuchs became fascinated by the cars themselves. The sight of an abandoned car immediately asks the question: “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.” 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 that there is nowhere to go but onwards towards civilization. Minor details such as the way the car is slightly turned to the right; the absence of a nearby building or sign; force us to jump to 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.

Fuchs’ photos appear like crime scenes, with all proof of the crime absent, or perhaps hidden somewhere out of the frame. All that remains is the vehicle that 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 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, for example the station wagon left remaining in an otherwise empty parking lot, force us to ask, “When will the driver be back?”

In one photo we see a glimpse of the side of a house, providing some relief at humanity’s existence in Fuchs’ world, however the impact is still unnerving; one recalls some childhood danger, or a neighborhood predator lurking just around the corner, threatening to snatch you away into the windowless, anonymous mystery of the back of the van.

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 is on exhibit at the Jack Hanley Gallery from September 3 2010 – October 2, 2010

Jack Hanley Gallery on Artabase