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Left Behind: Lernpark #0799

September 26, 2011

Massimo Vitalli (Italian, b. 1944), Lernpark #0977, 2001. C-print face mounted behind Plexiglas. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 2010. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and the Bonni Bernubi Gallery

See Katie’s previous post on the exhibition Left Behind: selected gifts from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection on view through October 2.

Lernpark #0799 spurred great discussion on my tour of the exhibition Left Behind, a selection of photographs from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection. A striking photograph by Massimo Vitali, the image shows a view over the Volkswagen factory’s Lernpark, an area where children can drive their own miniature Volkswagen cars.

Visitors and I discussed the image as an investigation of contrasts: the size, bright colors, and whimsy of the cars stand against the large, industrial, brown factory. I questioned the visitors as to what in this image is “left behind.” The factory, as a symbol of work, is left behind for the Lernpark, a place for amusement, one suggested. Another felt that we have abandoned our morals by commodifying children’s play. A third felt that people are left behind — factories have become so mechanized that the only place for humans is in such amusement-focused areas. A seemingly simple photograph, Lernpark #0799 drove discussion as we worked through its many potential meanings.

-Katie Klein, Gallery Educator

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