Shadow Journeys

Book Review

  • Peter Bräuninger Schattenreisen: Radierungen

  • With texts by Alexandra Barcal, Peter Kane Dufault and Martin Schaub (in German)
  • 356 pages, with 270 color illustrations
  • Published by Achilla Presse, Hamburg/Baltimore, 2013
  • CHF 68

The title of Peter Bräuninger’s recent retrospective and accompanying catalogue, “Shadow Journeys,” is taken from an etching the artist made in 1989. Like all of his work, it is meticulously rendered and lugubriously lit. A lone traveler, in jacket and hat and accompanied by an old-fashioned valise, looks out at an approaching steamship. The scene is a romantic evocation of a journey’s start, but things get strange quickly. The man is standing, not on a dock, but on what appears to be a rural railway platform; the clock mounted to the rafters above him reads twenty past six, and we can read it thanks to the light streaming from the station windows.  The position of the huge ship is ambiguous: it could conceivably be traveling along an adjacent canal. But what is the platform for? “Shadow” might refer to the surrounding darkness, or to the possibility that the ship is a pipe dream, or more broadly to an inversion of the normal order—a “shadow journey” like a “shadow government,” much the same except in a few all-important details.

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