Space Motel By Felix Baumsteiger
In his debut street photography project, ‘Space Motel’, Maastricht-based photographer Felix Baumsteiger reinterprets the urban space of Toronto and Niagara Falls, Canada. Both locations, the recent subjects of intensive gentrification and tourism, are predominantly framed as slick, world-class destinations – cities of growth by way of condominiums, boutiques, and bright, gaudy nightlife. Yet Baumsteiger, as an outsider, perceives the interstice of these glamourous locations, focusing on the ordinary, occasionally bizarre fabric between these concentrated points of flashiness and wealth. These sites, rendered in grainy black and white, are a reminder that beneath their surface, gentrifying cities hide a resilient mundane and Modernist world: the classic car disintegrating in the parking lot, or the space-age signage of a run-down motel. Each image is familiar, yet disconnected from the viewer’s perception of contemporary existence – a time warp to mid-20th century Americana, or in this case Canadiana, somehow still present in daily life. Baumsteiger thus reminds us to look beyond the lurid veneer of the present, and into the obscured, living history of the buildings and objects he presents to the viewer.
Text by Diana McNally