Jasenko Rasol (HR) Winter Gardens

photographs, 2006 - 2010

The gardens I photograph appear on no-man’s-land, in zones that are described as being non-urbanised, on empty surfaces of the city and always in the proximity of large residential neighbourhoods. In order for these gardens to come into being, the following are needed: a relatively large piece of land, an absence of title deeds and residents in neighbouring buildings. Such a constellation will result in what I believe to be the wondrous sites of suburban gardens. I photograph the gardens in the wintertime, out of season and without any people. It is when they are out of use that they become even more undefined and thus acquire new meanings. Due to their temporary nature, the gardens are sites of function conversion. Dominant are recycling processes, improvisation, formal messes and casual ecology. The gardens function as contemplative playhouses for adults or a haven for citizens suffering from rural nostalgia, or a possible salvation for the poverty-stricken.

I believe that these gardens reflect the need for a context reaching beyond the basic function of the street. These are symbolic points lacking in the urban body of the city due to the fact that they are outside the reach of primary architecture. The gardens are spaces of outbuilding/upgrading, just like squares and parks.

Still, the gardens are spaces without a future - they are sites of future shopping malls and other corporate or residential necessities. Today’s condition of formal neglect is probably more advanced than what is yet to be realized by transitional urbanization. The garden spaces are exactly the opposite of what they seem to be, and in comparison to what is to come, they represent an elite location in the neutered architecture of the city.

Zagreb, winter 2006

P.S. Four years later I returned to photograph the gardens. A fair amount of what was once documented is no longer there. As expected. The city is expanding and devouring the meadows left behind. It is as if the triple uncertainty of the previous text has also vanished - the remaining gardens witness the poverty-stricken as their only visitors now.

Jasenko Rasol (HR)

Born in 1969 in Zagreb, where he currently lives and works as a freelance cameraman and photographer.