JASENKO RASOL (Croatia)
*Winter Gardens (2006)
The gardens I photograph have emerged in the no-man’s land of the non-urban zones, in empty spaces that exist in the city, always next to large housing estates. For the gardens to crop up, you need a sizeable plot of land, absence of private ownership and the residents of the nearby buildings. This is the constellation that generates those suburban gardens I wonder at. I photograph the gardens in wintertime, off season, bereft of people. They do not serve their function then and this adds to their lack of definition, adds new meaning to them. Because of their transience, the gardens are the places where things are given a new function. The predominant processes are recycling, improvisation, formal disorder and offhand ecology. The gardens are contemplative playgrounds for the grown-ups, or places of refuge for the city dwellers who feel nostalgia for the rural lifestyle, or sanctuaries for the socially vulnerable. The gardens are a reflection of the need for context that transcends the fundamental function of the street. They are symbolic spots missing in the urban fabric of the city because they are beyond the pale of primary architecture. The gardens are places for superstructure; as city squares and parks have always been. Yet, the gardens are spaces with no future: the spaces are predestined to become shopping malls and other inevitable office and residential developments. The current state of formal neglect is probably more progressive than the transitional urban development plans in the offing. The gardens are the exact opposite of what they seem; if we compare them with what will be there in the future, they are elite places in a neutered city architecture. Four years later, I wanted to photograph the gardens again. A good part of what I had photographed no longer existed. No surprises there. The city spreads and gobbles up the remaining meadows. The uncertainty from the text above is gone: the remaining gardens make it clear that their only constant visitors are the socially vulnerable.
Jasenko Rasol, born 1969 in Zagreb, works as independent cameraman and photographer and artist. He lives and works in Zagreb.