Photographs by Rene Kersting
A connection between two points.
Direct. Fast. Subterranean. Raw.
A place between anxiety and formal aesthetics.
As a result of the economic boom that took place after the end of the Second World War, the German population started becoming mobile. Due to the increase in the number of cars on the roads, there were problems with the traffic flow.
Following the theory of the autogerechte Stadt (car-friendly city), German cities were subjected to numerous interventions. One of the measures that was taken was the construction of tunnels—subterranean footpaths that built a connection between two points. The basic idea was to split people and car traffic by putting them on different layers.
These days, the theory of a car-friendly city is no longer in focus. Tunnels became some kind of strange hidden public space—relics that are constantly used but not significant.
Tunnels are motion. Their primary function is to connect two places in the most direct way. Pure function. No beauty. No reason to stay. Nevertheless, there are some kinds of aesthetics present. The rhythm of light. The pattern of tiles. The structure of surfaces. The linear orientation. Aesthetics that should be noticed. Architects and creators of modern cities should be aware of them.
But that is not the case. People are not impressed by these kinds of places. They are afraid of them. The thought of being subterranean without daylight makes them feel uncomfortable. Even nowadays architects are not interested in these off-spaces. Nobody likes to be there. Nobody thinks about them. Nobody wants to take care of them.
To me, the interesting thing about tunnels is the contrast between anxiety and formal aesthetics. I am always interested in urban spaces that are not part of the superficial image of a city. Spaces that are under the surface. Hidden, unsightly, and unpopular.
The photographic series Tunnel deals with these subterranean public spaces. It is a documentation of tunnels in several German cities. All photographs are taken in black and white, from a central perspective. Working in black and white allows me to pay full attention to the proportions, rhythms, and structures. Using the same perspective in all pictures makes them comparable.
The intention of my work is to create a discussion about tunnels as a part of the urban space.
Rene Kersting, born 1989 in Düsseldorf, first studied architecture at the Peter Behrens School of Arts. Since 2013 he has been studying architecture with Calle Petzinka, Max Dudler, and Nathalie de Vries at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. In 2015 he received the Gargonza Arts Award for architecture. In his dispute over architectural ideas he works with different methods—especially photography.