Thomas Struth: Unconscious Places
Essay by Richard Sennett
Thomas Struth is one of the best-known photographers to come out of the school of Bernd and Hilla Becher. In this celebrated volume, Struth presents a series of urban streetscapes from cities such as Edinburgh, Lima, Pyongyang, Naples, and New York City, all taken in similar conditions-devoid of human activity. Struth refers to these mundane buildings, unpopulated streets and anonymous facades as “unconscious places”-environments that are imbued with meaning only by the viewer. Captured with exquisite technical prowess and presented with powerful, restrained neutrality, Struth’s images allow us to fully appreciate a city’s character-from its telephone wires above to the pavement below. Renowned sociologist Richard Sennett’s illuminating essay reveals how Struth’s sober, lucid photography leads the viewer to create their own conclusions, rather than forcing a perspective. The resulting interplay among photographer, viewer, and landscape may hold the key to understanding how architecture affects our daily lives.