Review: Airtropolis

February 20th 2014, 05:29 | Written by Flightmap

“Airtropolis”, the latest project of photographer Werner Bartsch, focuses on the urban space of a major intercontinental airport (FRA), presenting telling details of this complex cosmos and moving freely within fenced-off territory.

The photographs also refer back to his earlier and highly acclaimed series, “Desert Birds”, whose subject matter was the airplane graveyards located in the South West of the USA. Like “Desert Birds”, “Airtropolis” is not a record of something that is there for all to see, but rather a highly subjective interpretation, with photographs that are sometimes straight, sometimes abstract.

Modern airport metropolises are the hubs of a globalised world. Ceaseless movement and ongoing changes of position are key features of the present age. This is the place where international connections assume physical form and develop, where technical change becomes visible. This place enables us to overcome enormous distances—spatial as well as mental—while functioning as the collective universe of countless people from the most diverse cultural backgrounds, as the point of departure for each and everyone to lift-off to another time.


I really like this book a lot better than its predecessor, “Desert Birds”. The photographs aren't as heavily edited, but even more artistic through their composition and colors. This is especially true for the night shots. I've also enjoyed the three large foldouts, which contain a whole series of images. All photographs were obviously taken in FRA, an airport I've passed through countless times—so I can relate to “Airtropolis”, making it not only a great gift for photographers and aviation enthusiasts, but also a most welcome addition to my bookshelf.

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