Sometimes I find situations that are generally taken for granted particularly alienating. I am repeatedly struck by such moments. Like when I am standing in the middle of a transport hub: in large cities the paths of thousands of people cross at such locations. People walk past each other, get in or out, run, push, are forced to stand in line, make room, or wait. Everyone wants to get where they are going; everyone is looking for their connection. I stand there, and I see a picture, a situation that says something very different from what is actually happening.
The logistics that make such a place run are impressive. What train departs when from which track, or how it is possible that two planes do not try to land on the same runway at the same time. Then again, it is just logistics. But if you think about every person as a story, then these nodes are nothing more than the meeting place of stories, life stories. Then it is unfathomable. Each individual is driven in one direction or another by a purpose. I ask myself: what are they all actually doing? What kinds of situations are they in? What are they thinking about right now?
I put myself right at the center of the hustle and bustle. Sometimes thousands of people pass me by before I have a photograph. One time I stood at the top of an escalator for two hours and took pictures. It was a long escalator, and when the people reached the top they had been immersed in thought for quite a while. Although transport hubs are public places, they are also familiar environments. Particularly for people in big cities, who are used to traveling long distances. Often they pass through such places on a daily basis. In a familiar environment you (often) fall into a certain role without realizing it. The same thing happens when you are in transit: many routes are traveled so often, they become automatic. Externally you are in motion, but internally you are kind of on standby. In the midst of the chaos of people moving from here to there, I brought the movie of everyday life to a standstill. The shutter on the camera functioned like a pause button. I felt the need to stop, to say, “Wait, I would like to take a moment to see what is actually happening here.” This kind of thronging mass is made up of many different situations that are over in the blink of an eye. If you freeze them and take the time to look at them later, they tell stories; they are plays, dramas, comedies. The man leaning thoughtfully on a pile of suitcases. The bus driver getting ready for his route. The gentleman looking at the ferry in the distance and clenching his fist. The commuter touching a statue in passing.
Without thinking about it, people integrate themselves into the architecture of railroad stations and airports. Sometimes this seems to be defensive behavior, a way of dealing with the daily routine. People will sit down on a certain chair in the waiting room and maintain an apparently prescribed distance from the other travelers. If there are a number of columns to lean against, travelers seem to automatically head for those that are still free. Then they all stand there as if in a row.
Life is a constant search for your role and place. When a large number of people come together, this search is concentrated into something quite symbolic. In these kinds of situations you have to allow things to take their course, accept that you will not reach your destination as fast as you would like. You only move forward if you are willing to give in to the daily grind, the rhythm of the city.