Copyright James Clancy 2012 published by Bohland & Schremmer Verlag, Berlin
As in James Clancy previous photobook, Border Country, he investigates a man-built place that has been abandoned and subsequently being reclaimed. He documents those things which constitute traces of past memories to narrate a metaphoric story about change and preservation. His subject for Sudgelande is a part of the train switch-yard Templehof located in the German city of Berlin. Built structures can become obsolete over time for a variety of reasons and in this particular case, this section of switch-yard became obsolete and eventually decommissioned for political reasons known as the Berlin blockade following WWII.
Clancy is attempting to create a portrait of a place, while providing evidence that this place is not entirely forgotten, but still in transition during its return to nature. He documents the changes that are slowly occurring that may blot out the past memories of what this place once was. A bustling train yard is now overrun with trees, bushes, grass and weeds. Clancy has created lyrical landscape photographs of this space, documenting the large trees growing between the now quiet steel rails or the fixtures necessary for an active train yard now overrun by nature’s growth. This is a subject which could become a cliché if it were not objectively seen.
I note an interesting dichotomy in viewing Clancy’s photographs, whereas the exterior grounds are in a state of natural reclamation, the interior of the switch-yard buildings appear clean and in a current state of use. Perhaps unlike the ruins of other cities and their abandoned structures, Detroit regretfully coming to mind, when these switch-yard facilities were decommissioned, there were those who must have had the foresight as to the potential utility of these structures, perhaps a lesson in structural recycling.
As a book object, this is book is very similar in design to Border Country, an image-wrap Hardcover book, printed and bound in Germany. The binding allows an almost lay-flat presentation, thus making the interior photographic plates very accessible. The book is a thin and what I would term a nice European size, just right for holding and reading.
Other James Clancy photobooks reviewed on The Photobook: Border Country