The Hague Museum of Photography is the first museum in the Netherlands ever to stage an exhibition of work by German artist Oliver Boberg (b. Herten, 1965). Boberg’s serene photographs and short films bear witness to an everyday reality which seems to be all around us, but is at the same time difficult to place. Boberg photographs ‘non places’ which are part of our collective memory: archetypal urban situations which can be found anywhere but cannot be localised. His work gives you the nagging feeling that you have seen these fragments of houses, apartment blocks, factories, bridges and motorways countless times before, passing by without paying attention, but you can’t for the life of you think where. The artist plays with this confusing sense of haunting semi-recognition by bending the real world to his will and imitating it. His photographs and films actually show of man-size models, which he builds to scale, positions in his studio, and lights with enormous care. Boberg’s hyper-realistic world is in fact a meticulous stage-set constructed of plywood, cardboard, tacks and glue.
Since the late 1990s, Oliver Boberg has been producing colour photographs of business environments and deserted urban scenes. More recently, he has also adopted the medium of film. His film works rely on visuals and are almost devoid of movement and sound. They invariably show a monochrome, nocturnal scene, often including natural features and apparently located on the outskirts of a town or city: a suburban road swept by sheets of rain, a dark area of urban woodland in rising mist, a steel bridge amid swirling snow, or a factory discharging steam. During the exhibition, these 16 mm. films will be shown in the form of alternating large-format digitised projections on three different screens. The very little sound and movement they contain are used to maximum dramatic effect: Boberg’s films are strange and ominous because they have no beginning or end and therefore no real story. Oliver Boberg (b. Herten, 1965) graduated in 1993 from Nuremberg Academy of Art. His work has attracted attention mainly in Germany and the United States. Boberg’s concept of a photographed and filmed ‘constructed reality’ is shared by a number of other successful contemporary artist-photographer-filmmakers, including Thomas Demand, Lois Renner, David Claerbout and Edwin Zwakman. The exhibition will be accompanied by a special bilingual catalogue (in German and English), published in cooperation with Kunstverein Hannover and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco. Preface by Stephan Berg, René de Guzman and Wim van Sinderen. Texts by Martin Engler and Marc Mayer. (Publisher Hatje Cantz; ISBN 3-7757-1362-X; price € 25)