Klaus Pichler’s Middle Class Utopia focuses on allotment gardens in Vienna, a.k.a “Schrebergärten”: little green spaces made up of loads of little sheds, which look like a Lynchian suburb where you can imagine awkward moments like the chicken dinner in Eraserhead taking place. There are 26,000 of these tiny allotments in Vienna, and they’re mostly visited by older people as a form of escapism from the city. Apparently there are quite strict rules in the Screbergärtens about how things should look and how you have to behave, which maybe contributes to the eerie mood and specific atmosphere of the place, which Klaus magically captures with his camera.
An important theme in the series seems to be the strange tension that exists in those who want to escape into nature, but who also want to fight back and sculpt nature in order to create an artificially idyllic space. The neat hedges documented rival Edward Scissor Hands’ meticulous trims, and there are plenty of stooped old ladies and pot-bellied men mowing the absurd, mini green lawns. There is also a very intense looking face-off between an old lady and a garden gnome, and as always, Klaus finds the weird and wonderful in the everyday. His projects never cease to amaze us.
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