More typologies • Herwig and Tabuchi

I have recently been introduced to two further photographers who use typologies.

Christopher Herwig (website here) is a traveller and documentary photographer who has worked in some of the world’s remoter places and deserves a separate blog posting at some time. He is also the author of a photographic typology of Soviet bus stops (web page with carousel of images here).

The local bus stop proved to be fertile ground for local artistic experimentation in the Soviet period, and was built seemingly without design restrictions or budgetary concerns. The result is an astonishing variety of styles and types across the region, from the strictest Brutalism to exuberant whimsy. (Herwig, ibid)

The bus stops are collected as a book, rather than shown as a grid, so we tend to view them in series. Herwig explains that the project started during a long-distance cycle ride in 2002 where he had set himself a target of taking one good photograph every hour. He became aware of roadside furniture and particularly of the variety of bus shelters. There is considerably more variety in the series than we see in anything from the Bechers or Tabuchi (below) but everything is quirky enough for the humour element to hold the series together.

Eric Tabuchi (website here) is a French photographer who seems to out-Becher the Bechers in the variety of material he has used in typology grids and books. For instance, he has two series of ‘Twentysix Abandoned Gasoline Stations’ and a further ‘Twentysix Recycled Gasoline Stations’ in which these structures get a new lease of life in various retail or restaurant uses, or just as canopies for covered storage. These projects appear as an homage to Ed Ruscha’s 1963 book, ‘Twentysix Gasoline Stations’. The treatment is different from the Bechers, the structures being seen with perspective, rather than square-on and formal.

As with the Bechers, there are other typologies of buildings, e.g. ‘Smalltown Chinese Restaurants’ or ‘Concept Stores‘ (shopfronts with the word ‘concept’ in the signage) but it is when he breaks away from buildings that he gets really adventurous. For instance, there are two books of ‘Alphabet Trucks’, shot on motorway journeys.

A particularly moving set is ‘Roadside Flowers’, documenting the small posies that appear at the sites of fatal accidents. This set is quite formally arranged, as befits the subject and is treated with some  respect.

Overall, I have spent a very pleasant hour or so, exploring Tabachi’s website and appreciating the combination of obsession, observation and good humour that underlie his work.

References

Herwig, C. (s.d.) Christopher Herwig Photographer [online] at: http://herwigphoto.com (accessed on 15 April 2016)

Tabuchi, E. (s.d.) untitled website [online] at: http://www.erictabuchi.com (accessed on 15 April 2016)

Wikipedia (2015) Twentysix Gasoline Stations [online] at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twentysix_Gasoline_Stations (accessed on 15 April 2016)