2016 - 2017
The Ruhr area / Ruhrgebiet, in North Rhine-Westphalia, is the largest metropolitan area in Germany. It is a polycentric agglomeration of several large cities with an industrial past. Historically, the eastern part of the Ruhr area belonged to Westphalia and the western part to the Rhineland. In the early 20th century, the Siedlungsverband Ruhrkohlenbezirk (SVR) proposed to detach the Ruhr area from Rhineland and Westphalia, to form an administrative and geographical unity. The idea of the Ruhrcity is build upon this proposition and even the Regionalverband Ruhr (RVR), a supracommunial institution, later considered a unification of the individual Ruhr cities. Merging those cities under the moniker of the Ruhrcity would result in the formation of the largest city in Germany.
The work on the edges of an idea / An den Rändern einer Idee is a photographic study of urban utopias. With the idea of the Ruhrcity in mind, the project focuses on the city’s outlying suburbs and the peripheral structure of the region. Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm pointed out that municipal development is best to be seen on the edges of towns, therefore fields of interest and investigation were developed to build a conceptual framework for the project. The photographs where taken within 26 site visits of the greater Ruhr area, traveling from city to city and focusing on the border area and the psychhogeographic aspects of the urban surroundings.
By taking up the role of a traveler and employing the archetype of the non-place, the project questions the cohesiveness of the Ruhr area as one city. The result is a body of work that examines the connections between these cities and how urban space can be recorded and understood in a photographic context.