It was a Vegas trip in 2008 that initially inspired what would eventually become "The City of Namara". In the old Vegas far from the strip, artist Robert G. Achtel (b. 1980) found a dubious yet magical place where the demise of Modernist ideals and the rise of postmodern concepts still lingered in the dusty air. Having closely studied the work of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Achtel had found a lead worth pursuing, a larger story about society and modern life, reflected in the architecture of the American roadside.
"Glass facades reflect the opposite side of the street, but they also reflect the hopes and fears of the society from which they originate."
Coming from a prolific and awarded background as a graphic designer, it's easy to recognize the influence of Achtel's tradecraft in his artwork. A game of shape and color, light and shadow, surface and space - impossible photographs composited using thousands of reference images the artist made across Nevada, Florida and California.
"The City of Namara" is a place of contradictions, where the promises of postwar America still resonate, yet at the same time, realities of postmodern life take the stage, with isolation and emptiness being a dominant theme. It’s no coincidence; initial photography took place during the recession of 2009, a time where countless commercial buildings were left abandoned, many of them vanishing within the following years.
To create this perpetually sun-drenched yet dark memento of late 20th century America, Achtel has developed a unique process, a meticulous hybrid of analog and digital methods. As a result, Namara, like the outskirts of those urban oases from which its components originate, feels simultaneously real and artificial like "a movie set without the movie.” The artist lives and works in Wiesbaden, Germany.