28 January 2007

Invited guest: Oliver Heissner


In the late 1950s the town planners of Hamburg (Germany) were looking for alternative locations for the new headquarter-buildings of the expanding oil- and insurance companies.

The northern part of the "Stadtpark", a huge common green park, was chosen to build this new business district as a "Bürostadt im Grünen".

In the respect of its monofunctionality, the spread-out solitary office-blocks and the consequent separation of streets for cars and pedestrian areas it got a nearly perfect example for the leading discussion theme on townplanning in these times: the so called "Charter of Athens" proclaimed by Le Corbusier 1933.

International architects took part in the contest for the planning and in 1964 the realisation of the first buildings started. It took over ten years until the whole "City Nord", the programmatic title of this new modernist "Gesamtkunstwerk", was finished.

Little more than 30 years old, the "City Nord" is already plagued by self-doubts and existential questions resulting from fast changing role models of urban development and the departure of many firms. Already some of the buildings stand empty or have even broken down. So it started a new discussion about demolition or extended and modified use.

At this point Oliver Heissner began a series of pictures in this area, following the visual themes of architectural style and design of the sixties and seventies but also having in mind the unknown future of this monumental "ideal city".

All pictures from 1999.
Color Prints, Diasec-Face-Sandwich, 110x144 cm, edition 3 (+ 1 ).

Shown in the exhibitions:
-- "City Nord: Denkmal, Lebensraum, Zukunft?", Galerie Cato Jans, Hamburg, 2000
-- at "senko" gallery (www.senko.dk), Viborg, Denmark, 2002 (solo-exhibition)
-- and "Stadt Natur" at Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg, 2005

Published in the "Jahrbuch 1999-Architektur in Hamburg", Junius-Verlag and the catalogue "Stadt Natur" Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg.


"LVA" short form of "Landesversicherungsanstalt" is the German public law insurance corporation. One of their buildings used to be located in the "City Nord" of Hamburg, described above. Some days before the building was knocked down, I had the opportunity of taking some pictures in the rooms. The employees left all the furniture and the plants behind. The whole scenery was quite astonishing. It seemed to be a perfect installation of an artist. Where could you find this typical furniture of the seventies and all these plants?

The empty shelves and tables tell their own story of bureaucracy and monotony.

All pictures from 2002.
Color Prints, wooden frame, 80 x 100 cm, edition 5 (+1).

Shown in exhibitions:
-- "remember this place", Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, 2004
-- "index 05", Kunsthaus, Hamburg, 2005

My interest in both series is equivalent in form and in content. The aesthetical beauty of the buildings and the interiors come together with a subtle sadness and the reflexion about the way of giving up buildings and leaving them empty, because nobody can use them anymore.

Words and images
© Oliver Heissner.
Invited to the F blog by Joakim Sebring.


Lina Nääs said...

Theese pictures make me want to die.

Anonymous said...

this is my enlightment for this year! i adore them!!!!!

i feel lack of words now, so sorry for this expression. adore each and every frame........!

Jeanette said...



Anonymous said...

I like this a lot. Excellent photography. It sounds "kling klang" to me.

Anonymous said...

Great to have you here, Oliver. You are welcome back any time!