3 Answers

  1. Rhein II is a place that doesn't exist just on the map.�

    The point from which the image was taken is a section of the river under the Oberkassel, on the opposite bank of which there is a small power plant. There are trees, lanterns, a warehouse, the usual landscape of the European plain. It's all gone from the picture. The main aspect of Rhein II is not that it is empty, but that it is artificial.

    In general, Gursky's motivation here is similar to that of Hugo when writing Notre-Dame de Paris: the central axis of the civilizational epic is not a person, not an event, but a place. In this case, the Rhine, which crosses six central European states, is the basis of thousands of years of fishing, borders, communication routes, a river that gave life when water was taken from it, and took life when people fell into it and drowned. River as the basis of civilization, but not part of it.

    And none of this is in the photo. Gursky, whose entire work is based on multiplicity and quantity, not only did not include anything in the image of the river, but on the contrary, he removed everything from it. The object of the civilizational epic was a place that does not exist.

    I must say that Gursky has a difficult relationship with the theme of nature. Nature was the first topic he started with-pictures of the mountain Alps where rare people actually became part of the landscape — and this is almost the only topic where he has to take off the position of a neutral eye at an unattainable height, and bring in something very personal. Unlike most of Gursky's works, Rhein II is not so much about civilization or nature as it is about relationships with the world.

    In this sense, it is interesting that in the absence of both the civilizational context and the general natural chaos, the river itself begins to seem unreal. This Rhine isn't just without a person — it's without anything. Engineering directness and sterility make the place artificial.

    This can be interpreted in different ways: it can be interpreted as omission, it can be interpreted as epistemological skepticism, or it can simply be interpreted as a purely formal decision. I think this is the part that the viewer should work on independently.

  2. Rudolf Goclenius introduced the concept of “antinomy”, which was revived by I. Kant. The greatest antinomy : There is a God” and “There is no God”.

    Once I read that Malevich's “Black Square” is the greatest antinomy of painting. It affected me and I began to read everything I could about Malevich… As a result, the square has become more familiar and I seem to perceive the expressiveness of the picture that I saw in the museum in the 70s.

    I will refrain from saying anything about “Rhein II” for now, since the picture on the Internet is very small, and the viewer is affected by either “living writing” (in painting) or” light painting ” (in photography).

  3. This question was answered in detail and, in my opinion, very competently by my colleague, art critic Gleb Simonov. I fully agree with his main thesis that this work of A. Gursky is unique in that it shows a very specific place that does not exist. No matter how paradoxical it may sound. I hope I have intrigued you enough and you will find the time and desire to read the article by Gleb S. Here is the link to it.

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