Wim Wenders has created some of the moodiest, most visually arresting landscapes in film history — a tone Pauline Kael described perfectly, referring to Wings of Desire, as "dim whimsy" and "spooky spirituality." Leave it to Wenders to make a ferris wheel look about as cheery as a death march.
"Ferris Wheel" is one of almost 40 photographs that the cultishly popular German director gathered for a new solo show, Places Strange and Quiet, about, well, places. The exhibit runs through May 14 at the tony, hip Haunch of Venison London.[Street Corner Butte, Montana 2003 by Wim Wenders, Courtesy Haunch of Venison] [Open Air by Wim Wenders, Courtesy Haunch of Venison]
The show is hardly a one-off dabble, the doings of an old man desperate for the limelight well after his creative prime. According to the press release, Wenders's interest in still photography sprang up while location-scouting for Paris, Texas, in 1983. He's been snapping pictures in far-flung corners of the globe since, capturing everything from a lonely bench in Hiroshima to a Hopper-esque street corner in Butte, Montana, to tourists speckled precariously on the lip of Mount Etna. A selection of the photos are compiled here, and each one packs in so much dreamy dreariness, it's either getting at something terribly poignant or flat-out nihilistic. We'll let Wenders tell it:
When you travel a lot, and when you love to just wander around and get lost, you can end up in the strangest spots. I have a huge attraction to places. Already when I look at a map, the names of mountains, villages, rivers, lakes or landscape formations excite me, as long as I don't know them and have never been there ... I seem to have sharpened my sense of place for things that are out of place. Everybody turns right, because that's where it's interesting, I turn left where there is nothing! And sure enough, I soon stand in front of my sort of place. I don't know, it must be some sort of inbuilt radar that often directs me to places that are strangely quiet, or quietly strange.
Wenders is something of a renaissance man. In addition to taking photographs and directing pictures, he's also managed to find time to paint and write. You would, too, if you had all that Weltschmerz hanging over you.[On Mount Etna by Wim Wenders, Courtesy Haunch of Venison]
[Images by Wim Wenders courtesy of Haunch of Venison London]