Even though I grew up in a rural area, the edges of town did not gradually dissolve into pastures, but rows of houses abruptly abutted rows of corn, cotton or soybeans. My hometown wasn’t large enough to have suburbs, but the patterns of development along the periphery wouldn’t be alien to folks who grew up in a cul de sac 20 miles from the downtown of a proper city. I do not have a romantic view of this kind of development, but the images of such areas by photographer Christoph Gielen are hypnotic enough that I can forget about irresponsible planning while staring at his work.
Jacques Menasche said this of Gielen’s work: “one is tempted to call his images ‘otherworldly.’ But such a characterization would be no more than wishful thinking. For Gielen’s subject is undeniably our world.” Maybe not entirely our world, but the world of folks who value having their own grassy lawn and acres of asphalt snaking toward and past their driveway on its way to a cornfield.