For his work The Third Day Henrik Spohler travels in stages from the north of Germany through the Netherlands to Spain and onwards to the USA, close to the Mexican border. The photographer from Hamburg searches for what human beings have redefined, reproduced and commercialised under the term "nature" in the course of the last few decades. His search is rewarded. He finds a monumental world, or a parallel universe even, which surpasses the imagination of the unsuspecting consumer. Through this photographic series, the latter has to come to the definitive realisation that the daily trip to the supermarket is no more than a simulation of reality, comparable to a virtual performance, allowing each individual a journey into a bygone era. This trivial experience is shaped by romantic and nostalgic promises and spreads the belief that a tomato is indeed only a tomato. But does this belief still hold?
We've heard about the huge greenhouses covering vast areas where edible plants thrive. Shouldn't agricultural principles grow proportionally to the population? Enormous greenhouses would thus be a logical consequence and not fiction. But the agricultural industry grows not only in its physical dimensions; it also surpasses the limits of the imagination and of reason.
Engineers, technicians, computers, scanners and machines have replaced gardeners and farmers. Day is bereft of its opposite. Artificial light is the better sunshine. Scientifically calculated nutrient solutions replace water as the source of life.
Fiction now presents itself as reality in these landscapes covered in plastic all the way to the horizon. Plants grow in artificial blue subsoil. Tomatoes resemble the suckers of an alien creature entirely made up of tentacles and tubes.
If the surreal can seem attractive in cinema and literature, the perception of this new kind of "nature" is intoxicating. On the one hand it is certainly fascinating, but on the other hand it is terrifying, as it is inevitably linked to the work of Frankenstein: in all shades of black and white, most of them straight out of the laboratory.
text: A. Meyer, Clervaux - cité de l'image
English translation by Verena Nickels