About the tragedy of a shopping cart. Review of “Einkaufswagen” by Luca Ellena

Do shopping carts have families? How are they coping in life? Does the fact that they are outside the store unconnected make them homeless? How lush is their erotic life in the streets of Berlin? Do their life dramas affect our lives in cities?

Luca Ellena, a Swiss photographer who graduated from Neue Schule für Fotografie in Berlin, takes care of the emotional side of shopping carts’ life. Ellena stapled all this prose of life in the Einkaufswagen photobook published by Kerber Verlag. Coming from a small Swiss town, he finds himself in the consumer jungle of life, which is the capital of Germany. This is the city of rubbish, art, concrete, street art, smelling of urine and cheap beer from Späti, and above all a city of abandoned shopping carts. All these big-city elements strongly affect the author’s senses, pushed him to urban drift. Luca’s photographs are a kind of still lifes, but also peculiar portraits of rolling objects?. With extraordinary tenderness and understanding, the author observes the intimate situations of these objects. Sometimes arranged in very dramatic poses as reminiscent of memes with the caption monday mood, the photographs are also subject to friendly relations, for example, the one with a scooter at the edge of a park.

It is a great pleasure to follow this exciting journey through Berlin from an inhuman perspective. The stories presented inside are simple single postcards similar to one-minute sculptures by Erwin Wurm. There is a high possibility that a given situation as a whole will disappear after the departure of the photographer. This ephemeral and pure exploration approach of urban space is the most captivating. There is no unnecessary fiction at Einkaufswagen. In the simplicity of documenting, we can experience what we miss every day. 

It is a photobook, just like its creator and publishing house, very neat and tidy, without any elements of surprise, consistent in editorial decisions. The A4 size is reduced, which makes the book appear just right. This publication could be perceived as a reflection of our consumer reality, which no longer controls the order and systematization of garbage in cities. There is also an emotional side to the life of shopping carts, which are so close to us and at the same time know nothing about ourselves. Remember that we are the creators of these creatures and we are very often responsible for their fat. Let’s not be indifferent to them.

Author: Luca Ellena
Title: Einkaufswagen
Place of publication: Berlin
Date of publication: August 2020
Author of photographs: Luca Ellena
Authors of the text: Tina Wessel, Jonathan Progin
Language: English, German
Graphic design: Georg Jaenisch
Publisher: Kerber Verlag
Number of pages: 96
Format: 17×24 cm
Binding: hardcover
Printing technique: offset
Circulation: 600
ISBN: 978-3-7356-0724-9