Photographs by Christian Helmle. Essay by Konrad Tobler.
Jovis, Berlin, 2008. 128 pp., 60 color illustrations, 10½x8".
In post-colonial Africa,“White
Elephant”was the ironic moniker
given to buildings erected with
international money and never put
to use. They remain as blights—
eroding reminders of enormous
waste. Europe has its own collection
of these contemporary ruins, such
as Santiago Calatrava’s practically
unused railway station near Lyon
and the partially completed Aldo
Rossi shopping mall in Berlin. On his
search for the remains of these
architectural wastelands, Swiss photographer
Christian Helmle discovered
numerous other examples
throughout Europe—in both urban
and rural locations. There is no
connection between the barren
structures and their communities,
since they have never fulfilled their
intended function; nature has
claimed them instead. In light of
their instant obsolescence, these
sites have a surreal air—and a
sense of melancholy—that Helmle
heightens to great effect.
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