The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay
Apr 2016 back issue
Paradise Cafe Property for Sale
photographs by Josef Schulz written by Gregor Jansen
A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous! Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
Abandoned buildings have a charm of their own. In stark contrast to inhabited ones, life has left them, remaining discernible all the same. In our concept of a life lived it remains present as a memory. Abandoned industrial wastelands, too, exude an air of work and manufacture. These new places of silence seem to ring with the sound of work. This is also the case with office buildings or shops. At some point these were all spaces invested with the hopes for a flourishing business, a business idea or a service and were frequented by numerous people. Düsseldorf artist Josef Schulz has always been interested in places of transition and transformation and, through his photographs, has brought their old or inner life to the surface so that we, too, can see and experience it. His main focus is the contrast between the how it was and the how it is. For his latest series he
went to the United States to seek out buildings of this kind. In his customary, New-Sobriety manner he has photographed the abandoned, vacant and mostly locked and boarded up buildings which used to house shops, snack stalls, petrol stations or supermarkets. Frequently, however, we can no longer discern the original use, or owner, or function of the building. Especially then, something akin to a projection space is created in our heads or as on a film set, where the buildings with their appeal ranging from wonderfully banal to surreal are charged with an aura or an identity. We attempt to approach the freestanding buildings from all sides and to re-activate the traces of the former use of the dead building when it was alive. Therefore the photographs by Josef Schulz are also influenced by loss and resignation. Here something has failed whose origin remains hidden and whose context the images deliberately omit. America as the“land of unlimited possibilities”is the past, and unlimited impossibilities are now as present as the over-indebtedness of the Americans. Each beginning contains an ending and every failure contains an oddly shaped ruin. Consequently the photographs of the poststructure series are articulate examples of a remote, beautiful melancholy, more or less borne by the spirit of German Romanticism and melancholy. Paradise Café. Property For Sale.
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