Martin Parr, Gerry Badger / The Photobook: A History - Volume 2 / 0|0|2006
One of photography’s prime functions is to make an inventory of the things of this world, and one of the more recently published photobooks continues that tradition. Endcommercial is about the urban experience, but filtered through the iconography of the streets. The city in question is New York, but it could be any modern metropolis, for it looks at the street as an expression of the systems that keep a city viable as a place to be, particularly those systems expressed in street furni-ture and signage. Signs, even those giving directions or orders -like ‘Police-Do Not Cross’ directives-are implicated in the business of the modern city, which is, in a word-business. Today, the metropolis functions not so much as a place where people huddle together for safety-as it did historically-but as a place where people trade. Forget about planners and architects. In essence, the city is a three-dimensional expression of a system of complex trading exchanges. At the macrocosmic level its neighbourhoods are an expression of the way these exchanges take place, so there is a business district, a warehouse district, a shopping district and so on. And street signs and furniture are the expression of the system at the microcosmic level-street level.
In Endcommercial, Florian Bohm, Luca Pizzaroni, and Wolfgang Scheppe have trawled the city, making a virtually encyclopaedic inventory of what makes up the street scene-parking meters, poles, shops, signs and so on. They include the temporary, like police tape and those mysterious marks scrawled and painted on walls and pavements to show the position of services like gas and electricity. And they photograph the resulting ‘holes in the road’. Nor do they neglect discarded objects,like broken bicycles, and abandoned shopping trolleys and consumer durables.lndeed, as cities produce more and more waste, dumped objects form a larger and larger part of the streetscape.
Walker Evans was probably the first photographer to investigate intellectually the potential of aesthetically disregarded objects (such as trash) as photographic subjects. Endcommercial almost has the last word. Evans would have loved this book.