Trains in Cinema :



Journey Time

by Darren Almond

Steidl & Partners

One of the most significant British artists of the past decade, Darren Almond has established a richly complex,  emotive, and flexible practice which centers on time and history, often focusing on the dark traces of industrialization from the last century but firmly rooted in present-day concerns. Raised in the coal-mining heartland and transport hub of northwest England, Almond became a keen train-spotter as a youth and has since made numerous works involving railways, from station-style clocks enlarged into kinetic sculptures to a profusion of text works that take as their format the embossed metal signs affixed to rolling stock.The focus of Journey Time is one of his most ambitious projects in this field and one of the milestones of his career so far: a trilogy of films devoted to remarkable trains. Schwebebahn (1995) was shot in Germany, upside-down on the first monorail. Running in slow-motion, disorienting and defamiliarising, it conveys a sense of modernity’s aspirations being inverted in an era where much twentieth-century idealism now seems bankrupt. Geisterbahn (1997) was filmed in Vienna on an old-fashioned ghost train. Shot in an expressionistic, shadowy style and punctuated by skulls, the journey becomes a gothic metaphor for mortal life. The third and final part of the trilogy was shot in 2006 on a hugely ambitious railway line built by the Chinese government, leaving from Beijing and stretching 1,200km into Lhasa, striking deep into Tibet. At certain points this will be the highest railway in the world, necessitating oxygen masks for the passengers. Currently it is oxygenated by publicity, having attracted a storm of protests from Tibetans who fear it is intended to bring in large numbers of Chinese migrants to colonise the country. As such, this work extends Almond’s exploration of how transport’s symbolic function as a flashpoint for human struggle. Published to accompany Darren Almond’s exhibition of all three films in Essen, Germany, this handsome catalogue features a substantial selection of images from all three productions.