08. June 2012
Why are all the floors so clean? “Indians are obsessed with the cleanliness of their floors. They are constantly sweeping them,” says Torben Höke, a young photographer that looks 22 but is actually approaching 30. He should know, considering that he traveled the country for three months on buses and trains, sometimes for 30 hours on end, to get from one place to the next.
The result is more of a collection of room installations than your conventional traveling literature. Höke has captured hotel and guesthouse rooms, their inhabitants and the maintenance staff and owners on camera. Every one of his pictures feels like a one night stand – bizarrely surreal, but somehow intimate, a little gritty and little sleazy.
His exhibition at 25 books on Brunnenstraße is hard to pass by – the snapshots evoke curiosity, their ostensible bleakness harbors a plethora of discoveries. A phone number that someone has scribbled on a bleak walls. A tag on a freshly washed shirt. How must those goldfish feel in their bowl ontop of a buzzing drink cooler?
As squalid and fleeting as Höke's photographs may seem, the more they resemble fairy tales and mystic narratives of a world that will reach its happy end one day – at least this Western European hopes so. Höke humorously provokes his viewers, sometimes leaving them worriedly brooding over his images, like the picture of a cluster of electrical cables falling out of an electrical pillar. Shouldn't someone fix that thing up before it explodes? Höke himself doesn't ask himself these questions. For him, the world and its harsh reality are a prodigious playing field full of lightness and poetry – and he doesn't even consider it a contradiction.
Rented Rooms until 6/13. Wed, Fri, Sat 2pm-7pm at 25 Books, Brunnenstraße 152, Berlin-Mitte, www.25books.de