This past Sunday in Berlin, perhaps in registering a long-brewing homesickness and blindly following some magnetic pull towards what would cure me – or maybe just finally resolving to fix the problem of my own boredom on a day in a city where everything is closed* – I found myself making a spontaneous visit to Amerika Haus, a.k.a. the new-ish home of the C/O Berlin Gallery. Amerika Haus, once a Reading Room for American culture (and stuff?) when it opened in post-war Berlin, is now incidentally hosting the only retrospective of Stephen Shore's photography in Germany. I'll admit I didn't know any of that before handing over my 10 Euros for a ticket, but maybe that made the satisfaction of my visit all the more potent.
The show is massive: over 300 photos, from his Walker Evans-influenced beginnings in the 1960s to his, um, Instagram account. And from the first photo to the last (plus maybe even those Instas), the show was a balm to my homesick eyes – particularly the snapshots of the American Surfaces series, which documented a 1972 road trip across the U.S., and the more intentional Uncommon Places series which followed. Maybe it's been too long since I've been home, but like a bee to some sort of sticky, familiar honey, I got pulled in and caught up by every little thing: by the pure Americana, the Californian desert, a pancake diner breakfast, anonymous rocks and foliage I felt I've also seen, a shimmering pool and an afternoon, a downtown somewhere in Ohio, or Montana, or Virginia, or a motel room in any of those places at dusk, the highway and big sky reflected in a darkened TV.
Stephen Shore: Retrospective is up until 22. May 2016 at the C/O Berlin Gallery. Go, if you can!
* On Sundays in Germany, every supermarket, every shop, and many an Italian restaurant closes its doors for the day. Over the five years I've lived here I think I'm only now reluctantly adapting to the concept of a day of rest, and learning to spend my Sundays like Germans do, mainly: eating breakfast for many hours, brisk (if boring) walks, and self-improvement. This weekend, my Sunday landscape became distinctly more European in outline than it ever has been – I both breakfasted for too long and did some self-improving activities – though incidentally remaining 100% American in content.