Michael Ashkin’s work spans various media, including sculpture, installation, photography, video, poetry, and text. His work addresses issues of landscape and urbanism, specifically the intersection of subjectivity with the social, economic, and political production of space. He is a professor at Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.
Michael Ashkin’s Horizont explores a different kind of urban void – the ‘breaks, fragments, incoherencies, and contradictions’ in districts beyond the city center, where large-scale redevelopment has yet to take hold. The postwar architecture in areas like Marzahn, on the city’s eastern fringe, was thrown up quickly and without ceremony, in answer to a need for basic amenities. Functionalist construction of this sort may once have embodied modernist aspirations, but it persists into the present as a kind of zombie architecture, much of it abandoned, physically present but devoid of anima or soul. The architecture of the suburbs belongs neither to the historical image of pre-war Berlin, nor to its new identity as a contemporary global city.
This sort of space doesn’t respond readily to the camera’s propensity for order, and Ashkin’s photographs play on its strange, disorienting quality, looking up past the tops of buildings, peering out from behind knots of vegetation, gazing dully at the ground. Many of the photographs feel like accidents. The modern city engenders various pathologies, among them agoraphobia and claustrophobia – the one an intense anxiety felt in open spaces, the other, a panic brought about by confinement. Horizont channels both of these aberrations. American Suburb X
17 cm x 22 cm | foil stamped clothbound hardcover, with tipped in b/w photo | 96 pages | 77 b/w images.