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In her photography, Friederike Brandenburg seeks out “isolated traces of civilization in places otherwise presumed to represent a pristine, untouched state of nature.” It’s hardly a new theme, meandering over more than a century from Carleton Watkins to Edward Burtynsky, and that presents a high bar for Brandenburg—-one she meets only sporadically.
It’s not all that surprising to see a green Dumpster near a fish-drying operation, or a pile of rebar near a weathered old barn, or a rotting, skeletal boat sitting in the shallows of a snowy lake. Brandenburg’s approach works when she stumbles upon an actual oddity. What led an old chassis to be half-buried in a broad, sandy beach? How did a pale blue minivan end up peeking out of a thick, green forest? Why is a tumbledown U.S. Navy plane resting in what looks like a primeval tar pit? The answers aren’t forthcoming, and that’s what makes these images worth lingering over.
Through Nov. 4 at Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh Street, NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 289-1200