In his second monograph, Paul Hutchinson looks at an underground station in the Neukölln district of Berlin. Wildlife Photography is a playful journey into an every-day appearance of exoticism.
In 2014 the interior design of the U-Bahnhof Hermannstraße had suddenly been overhauled: aiming to avoid further potential spaces for graffiti, the train station was redesigned into a lively jungle scape. The columns, walls, doors, the tiles and floors, were filled with colorful illustrations, merging into large frescos that cover the inside of the station. Hutchinson has taken this as starting point for a conversation with the mindset behind the illustrations and to hint at the socio-urban context in which this jungle has been placed: originally a laborers’ stronghold, the immediate environment of the train station is still quite far from being gentrified, the inhabitants by now mainly of non-German descent.
As an eager customer of Berlin’s public transport system and part of the local community Hutchinson, as most of his neighbours, at some point was unable to stop asking himself what this jungle was all about. Where do the monkeys, tigers and parrots come from, and what are they looking for here, underground?
In this publication images from the U-Bahnhof are juxtaposed with seemingly ‘real exotic’ pictures. A fake jungle is placed next to a real one: we see a real butterfly next to a fake anteater, an illustrated bird meeting his live counterfeit, observe a girl in a leopard suit dancing. All this while the architecture of a public space merges with depictions of animals that radiate their own photo-ethnographic feel – and with graffiti.
While Paul Hutchinson’s first publication with The Green Box mainly looked at something familiar to him within a foreign setting – Hip Hop culture in India –, this artist book investigates something utterly foreign within an environment he feels only natural about – a Berlin underground station.
With a postface by Shahin Zarinbal