The global award in photography and sustainability

Andreas Gursky

The beholder of the 3.06 metre high and 2.22 metre wide work‚ Ohne Titel XIII’ (2002) is confronted with an apparently infinite landscape of garbage. It’s the garbage dump in Chimalhuacán, Mexico City, which extends up to the horizon in this panel format.

From a distance the work appears abstract, and, with its colourful spots, recalls the drippings of the action paintings by Jackson Pollock. In approaching, details become noticeable: logos give away the former content of the empty cans and cardboard boxes and at the same time testify the power of the global markets that allow Pepsi and Coke bottles to await their decomposition at garbage dumps all over the world.

The large format and the almost endless variety of details pull the beholder deeper into the picture. Like an archaeologist, Gursky examines the surface of the garbage to receive further information on the current civilization. All of a sudden he recognizes that he is not alone – beneath the horizon line other seekers become visible. They are searching the garbage for usable things that may ensure their livelihood and nourish their families.

The garbage covers nearly every part of the photograph, plastic bags are floating above the scenery, almost frozen in the air – this work is a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional world landscape. Andreas Gursky explains it in this context: “It’s world-garbage” and proves himself as a photographer of globalization.