Houses of Instagram, 1990
From Tilt Shift Rules
200 x 200 in.
Digital

Houses of Instagram, 1990
From Tilt Shift Rules
200 x 200 in.
Digital

Toni Hafkenscheid: Relics of the Future

The most fascinating aspect of photography to me is the fact that it closely resembles reality. In my work I like to explore what constitutes fact and fiction by trying to blur the limits between reality and illusion.

I photograph actual landscapes and play with the illusion of real and fictitious by utilizing a shallow depth of field to make some parts of the image appear soft and other parts in focus. The colours in the photographs are tweaked to look like old postcards.

In this series Relics of the Future, I am exploring our erstwhile visions of an American future as seen from a 1950s/’60s point of view. I am looking at structures built in that era that represent an idealized view of a future with its belief in technology, a sense of optimism, and a promise of better days ahead.

I was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, fourteen years after World War II. During the war the city centre was completely destroyed. Instead of rebuilding the city and making it look like it did before the war, it was decided that the city should look like a North American city with modern architecture. As Germany, the motor of the European economy, underwent its enormous economic recovery, so did Rotterdam. (During that time Rotterdam was considered the biggest port in the world.) The city flourished; there was a sense of hope and a belief in a better future. As a child I remember hearing the constant noise of pile-driving as the city was being constructed. I also remember looking toward North America with a sense of envy, as a place where people really dared to dream big by building superhighways, towers, and dams.

These photographs symbolize that American dream and a feeling of progress, success, and power. I am trying to capture that excitement I felt as a kid, while at the same time realizing that now, almost half a century later, those structures are relics of a future that never came to pass.

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