May 2005

Urban Calligraphy


In her first-ever solo exhibition in Rome, nomadic young German photographer Nadine Ethner uncovers the urban textures of Berlin, Mumbai, Osaka and Istanbul. Seen through the lens of her Rolleiflex, these cities transform into geographical locations and mysterious maps with lost identities. In doing so, she changes photography from an instrument for recording reality to one that can abstract a vision of a city. 

The physical substance of Mumbai, Osaka and Istanbul, with their markets, squares, mosques and throngs of people, is captured in the vibrancy of a few characteristic signs, suggesting another level of interpretation for the series. Ethner uses photography to reconstruct the extraordinary features of each place so that they take on the shape of a new vision composed of linear networks and bright loops of light. In a sense, the artist is attempting to record a retrieval of the soul of the city, remaining fully aware of the speed and unruliness of urban development — the two forces that have quickly led to the loss of both its unique, enduring signs and its identity. What remains of those strong spiritual cultures that brought people and nature together in a single entity? 

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