The online exhibition Our Cities Surrounded reveals residential areas around the
globe—from America to Asia, Europe to Africa or the Middle East. 42 artists from
21 countries photographed in 19 states both home or abroad to give an insight into
global human living conditions and its specific local history.

Curated by Carlotta Meyer and Tina Sauerländer (peer to space)

Participating artists

Taysir Batniji
(Palestine/France), Bogdan Andrei Bordeianu (Romania), Malte Brandenburg (Germany/Denmark), Hannah Darabi (Iran/France), Marlon de Azambuja (Spain), Donato del Giudice (Italy), Lorena Endara (Panama/USA), Gerrit Engel (Germany), Katharina Fitz (Austria/UK), Faten Gaddes (Tunisia/France/USA), Jennifer Garza-Cuen (USA), Florian Generotzky (Germany), Otto Hainzl (Austria), Robert Harding Pittman (Germany/USA), Matthias Hoch (Germany), Jordi Huisman (The Netherlands), Rohan Hutchinson (Australia), Nicu Ilfoveanu (Romania), Gerry Johansson (Sweden), Urte Kaunas (Lithuania/Germany), Yasutaka Kojima (Japan), Dillon Marsh (South Africa), Bernhard Moosbauer (Germany), Huma Mulji (Pakistan), Mame-Diarra Niang (France), Hirohito Nomoto (Japan), Hildegard Ochse (Germany), Yu Ogata & Ichiro Ogata Ono (Japan), Mikula Platz (Germany), Gabriele Rossi (Italy), Katharina Roters (Germany/Hungary), Jörg Rubbert (Germany), Eli Singalovski (Israel), Silvia Sinha (Germany), Rainer Sioda (Germany), Jan Vranovsky (Czech Republic/Japan), Sinta Werner (Germany), Michael Wolf (Germany/Hongkong), Yoshie Atsushi (Japan), Kyler Zeleny (Canada), Harf Zimmermann (Germany)

Faten Gaddes
Our history shapes our present. We are all involuntarily born into a certain culture, a certain region, a certain city somewhere in this world, that in turn shapes our own perception of our surroundings, foreign cultures and the world itself. We are all responsible for making ourselves aware of this fact in order to treat each other with respect, empathy and humanity. Clearly this demands a huge amount of self-reflection and change of perspective from each of us, especially when we encounter “the other” on the streets of our neighborhoods, abroad on our holidays, on the Internet, somewhere in this world, physically or virtually. Our Cities Surrounded contextualizes our own living space within the one of the others around the globe. Differences and similarities become visible proving that we are all somehow linked together.
The urban street scenes away from public buildings and tourist sites reveal the inhabitant's daily surroundings. Without any individuals the images speak generally about human living conditions and their cultural or country-specific manifestations. Buildings last over generations. Therefore they symbolize and witness societal values or a certain aesthetic sense. Both change or decline over time. Edifices decay with it, are abandoned, destroyed or become ruins, or they get reshaped or restored. Our Cities Surrounded speaks about this change, that may have been brutally forced by authorities or happened barely noticeably and slowly over time.
Please find more information about each artist and work below the exhibition.
Taysir Batniji, Untitled, from the series The City,
1999-2006 (Gaza, Palestine)

“Gaza is not ‘a beautiful city’. It is the place where, because
of its political, demographic (the largest population density in
the world) situation and its physical, urban or social
constitution, it is difficult, not to say impossible, to be alone
or to have a minimum of privacy.” (Taysir Batniji)

Bogdan Andrei Bordeianu, Iancu Jianu 2, diptych, from
the series Perifeeric, 2008 (Bucharest, Romania)

Perifeeric II is a visual investigation of Bucharest’s chaotic
development after the communist era and its rapid social and
economic changes and the lack of power, authorities and
urban planning. Building the dream house in the periphery
turned out to be chasing a chimera. New buildings remain
unfinished. The artist calls them “reversed ruins”.

Malte Brandenburg, Stacked, 2016 (Berlin, Germany)

“I focus on order and symmetry to show details of our urban
environment. I believe that a city is a representation of its
society, its people.” (Malte Brandenburg)

Hannah Darabi, from the series Haut Bas Fragile,
2013-2016 (Tehran, Iran)

Haut Bas Fragile proposes an alternative image of Tehran,
and of its most visible side which has been ignored. It is
composed of different photographic approaches in order to
make micro-histories of the ordinary city (those of its
inhabitants as those my memory can rewrite).” (Hannah

Marlon de Azambuja, Movimiento Concreto, color video,
2009 (São Paolo, Brazil)

Walking as aesthetic strategy, contemplation, humor and
eroticism are elements that converge in the work of Marlon
de Azambuja, coming together with his interest for the
anatomy of cities and a kind of architectonic voyeurism.

Donato del Giudice, alluminio e perspex, 2009, (New
Orleans, USA)

Houses is a post-post Katrina New Orleans photographic
project Donato del Giudice started in September 2009. The
artist divided the city in quarters to portray the different style
of the houses, from the Shotgun to the Double-Gallery, using
the same front view. “Every house has his own personality,
that reflects the one of the people that live in”, the artist says.

Lorena Endara, Empty Lot, 2004 (Salvador da Bahia,

In her photographs the artist explores landscape within the
context of its historical, political, and economic processes.
With her works Lorena Endara investigates complexities of
different cities and their modernization processes as well as
ideas of progress, absence, and heritage visually expressed
in (urban) landscapes.

Gerrit Engel, from the series Marzahn, 1999, (Berlin,

The series Marzahn is an examination of the largest
East-German prefabricated housing estate ten years after
the fall of The Wall, the account of the transit of a society by
means of pictures of its structures, buildings, inhabitants and

Katharina Fitz, from the series Malaga – paracosmic
, 2015 (Malaga, Spain)

The series portrays the transformation of the once traditional
fishing villages Pedregalejo and el Palo in Malaga into a
tourist honeypot. The work of Katharina Fitz focuses on the
socio-cultural and urban photography from a critical and
reflective perspective, revealing the structures, processes,
changes and problems that are part of social life and human
interactions within urban space.

Faten Gaddes, Rue/Street, 2009 (La Goulette, Tunisia)

“Taken before the revolution and presented in a gallery in
Tunis for the exhibition Rue, this photo is charged with
symbolism. From today’s viewpoint it almost seems like a
warning, like a herald of the riots that would lead to the ‘
revolution for human dignity’ on 14th January 2011.”
(Rachida Triki)

Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Untitled - Streetscape, 2012, from
the series Wandering In Place (Detroit, USA)

The photograph belongs to the Detroit Chapter of Wandering
In Place
, a series that depicts locations in the United States
as a residue of the artist’s cultural memory, an inheritance.
“It is a metaphorical memoir, a narrative re-telling of facts
and fictions and it is also my discovery of the dreamland that
still is America”, the artist says.
Florian Generotzky, Untitled, 2012 (Santiago de Chile, Chile)

Being abroad, Florian Generotzky explores cities by foot, like a
, an urban explorer, the connoisseur of the street. He
captures daily life in the streets, away from tourist attractions to
become acquainted with the people inhabiting their urban

Otto Hainzl, Views of a streetscape in Sarajevo, Living
Situations. One Single Streetscape – beyond Marsala Tita,
35 building views, 2011 (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

“Like honeycombs made of steel-reinforced concrete, this is an
arrangement of life-on-life, with differing approaches stacked
side-by-side and one-atop-the-other. A uniform quality,
predetermined by ideas of city planning and architecture, but
interwoven with the individual: no window, no balcony is quite like
the other.” (Otto Hainzl)

Robert Harding Pittman, Blue Diamond | Las Vegas, USA,
2010, from the series ANONYMIZATION (1998-2012)
(Las Vegas, USA)

“All across the world a uniform, homogeneous model of
development, inspired by L.A. style urban sprawl – consisting of
massive freeways, shopping malls and large-scale master-
planned communities with golf courses – is being stamped onto
the earth’s topography. With this anonymous type of development
comes not only the destruction of the environment, but also a
loss of culture, as well as alienation.” (Robert Harding Pittman)

Matthias Hoch, Rome #7, 2003, c-print, 150 x 190 cm (Rome,
Italy) © 2016 VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, courtesy Galerie Jochen
Hempel, Leipzig/Berlin

Matthias Hoch’s photographs are images of contemporary
urbanity. In lucid compositions, his photos expose the materials of
the modern age in all of their austere sensuality. The artist says:
“I’m searching for clarity in a world that’s growing ever bigger,
faster, harder to grasp. Solid forms to counter ever greater
diffusion. Powerful markers which will endure in the viewer’s

Jordi Huisman, Rear Window - Singapore #4, 2014 (near
Tanjong Pagar, Singapore)

The Rear Window series focuses on the rear of buildings in
capital cities. While one balcony becomes home to a large
satellite dish, the neighbouring balcony becomes a storage
space. There is also an element of the voyeuristic: meticulous
exposures resolve small details in the houses and lives of their
residents which were never meant to be outwardly visible.
(Jordi Huisman)

Rohan Hutchinson, Untitled, from the project Elemental,
2014, (Blairemore Alberta, Canada)

“My work is an informed researched based practice. Through
large format photography I question the transformation of
architectural space and its relationship with the environment.
Elemental studies how variance in extreme weather conditions
(+4 to -35 Celsius) and slight shifts in geographic location affect
architecture.” (Rohan Hutchinson)

Nicu Ilfoveanu, Juventus Colentina, from the series
Steampunk Autochrome
, 2007, courtesy of Galeria Posibila
(Bucharest, Romania)

“A play of words, the title alludes to the autochrome process, an
invention that enabled the emergence of the first color
photographs (back in 1906), as well as the concept of
Steampunk, a kind of neo-romanticism attached to the ruins of
the industrial revolution. In fact the images – taken with a
box-camera – easily transport us into a collective memory with
the taste of postcards, communist atmosphere of exalted
childhood in the wasteland” (Agnès Birebent, 2010)

Gerry Johansson, Otemachi, Tokyo, 2004 (Tokyo, Japan)

The photographs Gerry Johansson took in Tokyo, show a
deserted Japanese capital, an architecture with clear geometric
structures. Some of the modern high-risers turn into graphic
patterns. Very rarely you will find traditional houses or street-
scenes. Even typical Japanese trees appear sometimes as
shadows on concrete walls.
(From the book Gerry Johansson - Tokyo, 2016)

Urte Kaunas, Untitled, from series Forbidden Island, 2013
(Wüstrow, Germany)

“I am a story-teller, a photographer and a spectator. I am
interested in people’s relationships”, says the artist. Urte
Kaunas’s series Forbidden Island is about the prohibited island,
an old Russian military base located in Wüstrow, Germany.
“On the shore of Baltic sea the original story takes place. It is
prodigious to see how nature takes everything back. The world
doesn't belong to us.”

Yasutaka Kojima, Title #1 Daikanyama, Tokyo, 2012
(Tokyo, Japan)

The artist captures and documents the urban environment and
network structures of today’s big cities like Tokyo, New York or
Berlin. Devoid of people, the man-made city grows apart from the
people themselves, leading to a feeling of transience and
Information about the artists and their works
Dillon Marsh, Untitled, from the series Swan Song, 2014 (near
Hopetown, South Africa)

“My work often isolates and emphasizes specific features of a
particular landscape—usually elements that illustrate how we
engage deliberately and unintentionally with the world around us.
The ruins of many abandoned farmhouses can be found scattered
across the rural areas of South Africa. The people have probably
long since relocated to urban areas to seek out better economic
opportunities.” (Dillon Marsh)

Bernhard Moosbauer, Untitled, from the series No Man‘s Land,
2010 (Bosnia)

The picture is part of the threepart work No Man‘s Land where
Moosbauer picked the issue of war in Bosnia as a central theme.
He traveled through the former war zones for two months to capture
the absurdity of war on the basis of the conflicts in former

Huma Mulji, Housing Scheme, 2009 (Karachi, Pakistan)

The work addresses absurd and incongruous visual confrontations
that occur around us and the ironic visual manifestations of living
200 years in the past and 30 years in the future concurrently, in
complex urban spaces. The work plays with the notion of the
contemporary image as 'evidence', in an age of sophisticated photo
editing software. (Huma Mulji)

Mame-Diarra Niang, Glitch 2, from the series Metropolis, 2015 (
Johannesburg, South Africa)

“My work is a kind of enigma that finds its keys in the ways I use
words. By playing with language I set up a concept, the plasticity of
territory, which considers the landscape, urban and natural, as a
biological being, organic and embodied, with its cycles of life and
death. By choosing the title Metropolis in the next series, which
means mother city in ancient Greek, I give information about this '
place'” (Mame-Diarra Niang)

Hirohito Nomoto, Façade 11, According to the signboard, it
appears to be a100 yen shop. Details unknown
, 2011 (
Ofunato-city, Iwate, Japan)

On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the
Pacific coast of the north-eastern region of Japan. The aftermath
was complete devastation. Hundreds of kilometers of coastal area
were affected with approximately 380,000 buildings suffering
damage and about 120,000 completely destroyed. Hirohito
Nomoto’s series is a record of some of the buildings damaged and
the personal stories behind them.

Hildegard Ochse, Untitled, from the series Derental, 1984

In the summer of 1984, Hildegard Ochse visited Derental, a village
in Lower Saxony, Germany. She was disappointed as Derental was
too tidy for her: “the lawn vacuumed and cut with nail scissors, no
weeds". In her photographs, the artist looked for the authentic and
for places where nature—as a symbol for mankind—finds its own
way through the obstacles of its man-made surroundings.

Yu Ogata & Ichiro Ogata Ono, Untitled, from the series
Okinawan Constructivism
, 2013 (Naha, Japan)

Yu and Ichiro Ogata understand architecture as visual
manifestations of the aggregate of layers of culture and human
emotion. They have considered and represented the relation
between our lives and the global cultural structure, fraught with
contradictions and oppositions.

Mikula Platz, hk north point, 2016 (Hongkong, China)

“Modern megacities are on the rise and suffering from the same
problems. Permanent lack of space is demanding new spatial
development programs to reconcile life, work and transportation.
The objective photographs give the spectator the chance to observe
the resulting density and coincidental curiosities of urban
landscapes while bringing contemporary city planning into
question.” (Mikula Platz)

Gabriele Rossi, Untitled, 2011/2012 (Latina, Italy)

The city of Latina in central Italy was founded in 1932 under
Mussolini’s fascist administration, after the region was drained. This
is the place were the artist was born in 1979. His photographs
observe and describe the short life of this young Italian city that
today can almost be described as contemporary archeological
site—although it actually faces thousands of years of Italian history

Katharina Roters, from the series Hungarian Cubes -
Subversive Ornaments in Socialism
, 2014 (Hungary)

The series deals with collective vs. private expression, conformity
and subtle subversion. The Hungarian Cubes are a standardized
type of residential houses that date back to the 1920s. The radical,
functionally designed houses in Budapest’s suburbs became closely
identified with the postwar communist era, when many villages were
rebuilt with uniform rows of single-family homes and the Hungarian
Cube became ubiquitous.

Jörg Rubbert, Closed Carpet Store, Jackson Street,
Hawkinsville, Georgia
, 2010 (Georgia, USA)

Joerg Rubbert reflects the impact of the previously suffered
financial- and economic crisis on the predominantly rural region of
the southern states in the USA. Far away from the boom town of
Atlanta, the decline is still ongoing. Rubbert’s images present the
current situation in an unfiltered manner: run-down shopping
arcades in Main Street, businesses standing empty or petrol
stations converted into rag shops.
Eli Singalovski, Kiryat Yovel 2, 2015 (Jerusalem, Israel)

”The work is a part of an ongoing project in which I am trying to examine, characterize and better understand the endless evolutionary process of changes Israeli generic residential buildings endure, constantly performed by the hands of the ones residing in them. The long-exposure nocturnal photography, and the transition to black and white, allow to some extent the isolation of the buildings from their surroundings and facilitate." (Eli Singalovski)

Silvia Sinha, Uhlandstraße, from the series Berlin Firewalls, 2015 (Berlin, Germany)

“In a long-term project I have been following the signs of the old cityscape in Berlin, searching for the rare remaining original or modernized firewalls. During the construction boom and economic upswing in Berlin in the 19th century, numerous working-class districts were built to provide affordable residential areas. The densely built multi-story housing blocks with side wing and back alleys were characterized by very striking and strong—always windowless—firewalls.” (Silvia Sinha)

Rainer Sioda, Eberswalde, from the series FACK, 2013 (Eberswalde, Germany)

“In a significant part of my work I concentrate on Berlin’s surroundings, Brandenburg, that is also called "The Mark". This mostly rural region is contingent on social economical processes since the reunification of Germany/Berlin in 1989. Demographic studies predict that by 2030, some of these East German areas will lose roughly a third of its population.” (Rainer Sioda)

Jan Vranovský, Whiteness in Arakawa, Tokyo, 2016 (Tokyo, Japan)

“Parallel World is an ongoing photography project aiming to create a personal portrait of Tokyo through the perspective of its distinct behavioral features, especially the rapid metamorphosis that is permanently rebuilding its own face. It opens a topic of ‘technology–age vernacular’: architecture and physical environment built without architects, formed by various mutually overlaying forces shaping the city rather than aesthetic or conceptual intentions, yet keeping distinct sense of Japan–ness.” (Jan Vranovský)

Sinta Werner, Die Flucht der Fassade I, collage, 2016

Sinta Werner’s installations and collages toy with spatial perception by forming unstable architectonic realms, teetering between pictorial representation and sculpture. The creation of architectonic works notably contributes to her exploration of virtual and physical boundaries, the notion of intervals and “in-betweens“ alongside other such aspects linking the two- and the three-dimensional.

Michael Wolf, Architecture of Density #119, 2009 (Hongkong/China)

The artist started his series Architecture of Density in 2002. His project turned into „an intricate and meticulous study of the megacity“ and marked the personal shift from Wolf’s occupation with photojournalism to fine art photography. Since then, the artist intensely deals with the urban architecture of mega cities and the remains or traces of human living in it.

Yoshie Atsushi, Ramen shop: Ota-shi, Gunm Ken, 2013 (Ota, Japan)

Yoshie Atsushi photographed in towns in the surrounding prefectures of Tokyo over a period of four years from 2010 to 2014. The artist calls them"provincial cities" to show us how vernacular elements help to tie these places together visually. The artist says: “Because real world is beyond my imagination, I intend that I always entrust the position to the world and take a photograph. It is the most important method to make the strength of the photograph.”

Kyler Zeleny, Untitled, from the series Crown Ditch And The Prairie Castle (Canada)

The photographs of the long-term project are taken in Rural Western Canada—an area formerly settled by a unique brand of hardened frontiersmen chasing the advertised allure of the last Promised Land. The project advocates for viewing this space as a beast upon itself, with a particular type of landscape, industry, and most importantly, people, who are a resilient breed created by generational lessons in fortitude and fortuned circumstance.

Harf Zimmermann, Eisenhüttenstadt, 1993 (Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany)

The town Eisenhüttenstadt, near the Polish border, was founded in 1950 close to a new steel mill as a socialist model city. Harf Zimmermann photographed it soon after the German reunification in 1990, after the state-owned steel works were privatized and the majority of the 12,000 employees lost their jobs. The town experienced a steep decline in population, from just over 50,000 to under 30,000 today.

© All artists for their artworks

Yasutaka Kojima
Hannah Darabi
Yoshie Atsushi
Taysir Batniji
Lorena Endara
Nicu Ilfoveanu
Marlon de Azambuja
Rainer Sioda
Gerrit Engel
Otto Hainzl
Eli Singalovski
Jordi Huisman
Gabriele Rossi
Huma Mulji
Sinta Werner
Mikula Platz
Michael Wolf
Donato del Guidice
Katharina Fitz
Matthias Hoch
Yu Ogata & Ichiro Ogata Ono
Gerry Johansson
Dillon Marsh
Jan Vranovský
Malte Brandenburg
Silvia Sinha
Rohan Hutchinson
Katharina Roters
Jörg Rubbert
Robert Harding Pittman
Mame-Diarra Niang
Florian Generotzky
Hildegard Ochse
Kyler Zeleny
Urte Kaunas
Hirohito Nomoto
Harf Zimmermann
Bogdan Andrei Bordeianu
Jennifer Garza-Cuen
Bernhard Moosbauer
Our Cities Surrounded follows peer to space's IRL group exhibition Sometimes You See Your City
This online exhibition now extends the original concept in terms of diversity and scale, facilitating
the inclusion of many more artists as well as infinite access thanks to the Internet.