laudatio 5th of November 2017
If Volker Renner’s work upsets your (visual) habits, that is a deliberate strategy. He turns his focus on the marginal zones of our attention, on what we perceive only unconsciously or overlook altogether. His photographs blur the boundaries between different states such as before and after, unfinished and derelict, occupied and abandoned, melding them in a virtual present that lends his pictures an almost timeless or universal quality. They convey a sense of the human condition, and yet his work aims neither at completeness nor at the compilation of a typology, instead subjecting photography’s capacity to render reality to humorous scrutiny. They highlight the fact that “reality is fundamentally unclassifiable,” as Susan Sontag writes in Melancholy Objects. Sontag describes photography as an attempt to sum up reality “in a array of casual fragments” as a way of dealing with it. Collecting and sorting these casual fragments of reality: that is the project Renner pursues in his photographs. By placing them side by side, he uncovers the systems of order that define the environments in which we live and reveals the habits of seeing with which we seek to make sense of them and endow them with meaning.