Landscape / Nature | Nominee

Sebastian Mölleken


A 40


The A 40 is also called the lifeline of the Ruhr region. It stretches from Dortmund to the German border near Straelen, and its around 89-kilometre route connects almost all large cities like Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen, Bochum, Oberhausen and Duisburg along the way.

It rolls past residential areas and office facades, but also through green and rural sections. It is a permanent construction site with traffic volumes of 140,000 vehicles a day - which means frequent congestion and means that the A40 meets with growing disapproval. The locals also call it the Ruhr slow-road or the longest car park of the Ruhr region.

With this work, I show life on and along this traffic artery. We take a look at what goes on behind the acoustic barriers and find access to places that usually remain unseen as you drive by. The landscapes show how the A40 snakes its way through towns and the local countryside. They also show how people have adapted to life with the A40.

Many of these photos appear bizarre and show how people come to terms with adversity. The route of the A40 is naturally lined with building sites, but there are also outdoor swimming pools, cemeteries, back yards or football pitches. People adapt and, one day, seem to forget that the motorway was once an annoyance.

The photos are relatively matter-of-fact. There are no special angles of view or the use of extreme focal lengths. The colour content is slightly desaturated. The visual language is minimised to an extent that the eyes are more or less forced to concentrate exclusively on the content. This lets the viewer recognise the humour the people need to live here and begin to imagine and comprehend what life is like in such circumstances.

These five images are only a brief excerpt from the complete series of more than 30 landscape photographs. They therefore offer only a glimpse of the diversity of the Ruhr region and the lives of the people who live there.