Winnaar IPFL 2015
Even though modern spa towns first surfaced in 18th century Britain and spread throughout most of Europe and far Russia shortly after, the idea must have resonated deeply with the German psyche. There are over 300 spa towns in Germany alone.
I travelled to about 40 of them all over Germany, famous ones as well as little ones usually not mentioned in a travel guide.
People go there mostly for health aspects but also recreationally.
Many places have specialized rehabilitation clinics and treatments for chronic diseases such as asthma or rheumatism. Some have found a niche in wellness programs.
I wondered whether these places have a unifiying aesthetic and if it transcends the mere facade and structure of the created environment.
Like an explorer of new territorries I looked forward to each new town, trying to capture their microcosm with a medium format camera.
Sometimes more from a distance when shooting the scenery other times talking to the temporary inhabitants and portraying them in their daily routines and treatments.
The more I delved into this world, memories from my childhood emerged when a chronic bronchitis made me spent several summers in a spa town in the mountains.
They are memories of beautiful nature, strange medical machines and elder people in white coats.
To me there was always an ambivalence in those memories, aesthetically and emotionally.
Almost as in a dream where one can never be sure if things are really the way they seem and where a tree can suddenly turn into a giant.
Much of this ambivalence must be felt by the patients when they return from a picturesque park area to the sterile interiors of the clinic.