My studies to become a photojournalist are progressing and with them the scope of new challenges. So it happened that I was up to create my own photo series as an assignment, the topic I could choose freely. After some musing with my roommate, the initial idea was to capture the charm and zeitgeist of old kiosks or drinking halls in the Ruhr area in germany. I believe that almost everyone who grew up here can remember going to the kiosk as a child to get a mixed cone of sweets, water ice or the latest magazine and not being hungry when lunch or dinner was served at home.
Many memories of that time accompany me. In those days, there was a kiosk on seemingly every corner. Workers and residents met there and drank their beer during their lunch break or after work, forming a lively neighborhood. Thus, the kiosk also became a meeting place and focal point for social contacts. Unfortunately, during my research I had to realize that many old drinking halls have already disappeared and given way to new construction. There are still many kiosks, but most of them are freshly renovated stores. Not many of the really old drinking halls from the 1960s and 1970s remain.
As time goes on, more and more supermarkets and extended opening hours caused kiosks to lose their clientele. Society has become more fast-paced and has changed. Things that were previously deliberately bought at the kiosk are now combined with weekly shopping. It’s all the sadder when individual kiosks that used to reliably supply people from the surrounding area have to close after many decades. With them, a piece of local life is also disappearing, so it is no wonder that kiosks are now part of the cultural heritage of the Ruhr region
The federal government had just announced the second lockdown during the Corona pandemic, which finally gave me the idea to link the current situation of the pandemic with the problem of kiosk death. The plan was born! It was only during my research that I noticed that there have been several photo projects in the past that have taken up the topic of kiosks in the Ruhr area and processed it in their own way, such as the photo & film designer Reinaldo Coddou H., who published an entire photo book. Well, my idea was apparently not exactly an inventive approach, but all the more a heart project, which is why I pursued it anyway. So it went 2 days across the Ruhr area, via Witten to Dortmund, Bochum, Herne, Essen and Oberhausen.
A journey through time with a surprising outcome
Visiting the individual locations one by one and imagining how life must have been back then felt like a little journey through time. During the tour, I had the impression of getting to know a region I was quite familiar with from a completely different perspective. Wonderfully wallowing in nostalgia, I was excited every time I went to the next address. Because sadly much more old drinking halls disappeared than thought and the daylight already at 16:00 o’clock intended the same, remained after sorting out exactly 11 photos, which were suitable for a series. Oh great! How is a composition that works to some extent supposed to emerge from this now?
First I had decided for a series consisting of 9 photos. The arrangement of the photos is such that the view is centered from the surrounding photos to the center point. This is also the center of the whole theme. The kiosk dying in the Ruhr area illustrated by the closed kiosk with pointed roof.
Shifting around and adjusting the photos, took most of the time and was pure luck in the end, because the outer photos unexpectedly support the centering by their shooting angle. Last but not least, in each of the four corners of the 9-series, the image information condenses towards the outer sides, which in turn creates a frame within the composition. In this way, all the photographs are related to each other.
Sometimes it happens that you have to part with your favorite photo with a heavy heart because it just doesn’t fit in. So it went to me with the last photo of the series on the far right. Since I wanted to separate partout not and had the feeling, the series is so not yet complete, the two outer photos were still added and expanded the work to a widescreen format. In this way they form the thematic framework of the series and lead the viewer from the left into the street, past the old, barely recognizable kiosk, into the 9-series and over the last photo out again.
The series is deliberately kept in black and white, precisely because this theme is not new and thus has a timeless character. Within the series, there are repeated references to the Corona pandemic, which in turn gives it a subtle time stamp. In the end, I think the result is a modest photo series that works surprisingly well while painting a nostalgic picture of our cultural heritage. At this point, I’ve deliberately kept it open to continue this series and I’m curious to know how you like it and if you’d like to see more of it?