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Recension: Vollendete Baukunst from Volker Gerisch
by Friedhelm Weidelich
Model making - Art
When you follow, almost stunned, the perfectionism that Volker Gerisch displays in his structures and tracks, it becomes clear that this is not just model building at its very best. It is more. For Gerisch is an artist and therefore has a more comprehensive approach to his object than most of us model railroaders who occasionally dabble as model builders.
He is able to create a microcosm inspired by the prototype such as Quiet Earth, a slice of life of the long-gone meter-gauge Plettenberger Kleinbahn. It's a two-part art piece consisting of just a switch and a few tracks in front of a cutaway company building inspired by the Plettenberg post office. No vehicles or figures are needed to bring this diorama, also shown at Intermodellbau in Dortmund, to life. The extremely meticulous display, recognizably set in the 1950s, unfolds an almost suggestive aura with recognition value due to its pure quality, which is far above that of other modelers.
Certainly, no one needs the casters under the porter's seat, which is also spring-loaded and has a sliding backrest. But this obsession with exploring an old model of chair, grasping it and then realizing it very, very close to scale reduction and knowing that the model actually works: Wanting to do this, and actually implementing it, is what makes it different from anything that has come before.
But Gerisch goes even further: through photography, he immerses himself in his models, checks and corrects them - a realization that I have also gained while photographing models and try to convey in spur1info. Photos mercilessly reveal what the naked eye cannot see, even with a magnifying glass. How well a model has really turned out can only be seen in pictures taken by a photographer.
The quality of his buildings and recreated realities is so high that Gerisch repeatedly experiences at exhibitions that his photos are perceived as model photos. "Aha, you've recreated exactly that prototype in the photo," some people believe to realize, but in fact it's the other way around. Gerisch uses sunlight for his photographs. This creates a real sense of space and better lighting than is generally seen in railroad magazines, where the range of lighting is between orange bedside lamp, greenish neon tube, purple LED grid in the picture or head-on flash.
Gerisch's photos are pure art like his buildings, you can buy them in small editions. They show rooms inspired by prototypes and partly built according to prototypes, naturally illuminated (even with the built-in miniature lamps according to prototypes) and masterfully photographed. In its entirety, it is no less than a work of art from the gallery or an art museum.
This is also described by "Uncle" Russ Reinberg in his foreword to the weighty book. For in his Finescale Railroader and the Modeler's Annual, Reinberg presented Gerisch's model building and that of other skills from all over the world. Those who subscribed to these magazines quickly realized that there was model building beyond Faller kits, laser-cut MDF boards, and "patinated" buildings and vehicles doused with brown-gray sauce. It was understood that not only did a basic idea for a diorama belong to it, on which one built for years, but also the exact research, the chronological classification, the course of dirty water on the walls, the traces of wind and weather, yes even the intended mood and the season should flow into the model. Not to mention the various techniques needed to achieve the goal.
Gerisch uses every conceivable and usable technique, tool and material, from crayon to paper, superglue to 3D printing, self-developed etched parts and jeweler-level investment casting. The steps to the goal, but also the wrong ways and detours, he describes in his book with many pictures. It shows not only his Quiet Earth project, but also the equally sensational Lohmann House of A Snapshot in Time with a complete 1950s interior, the track construction with functional details and a patina to die for, plus the planning and construction of the neighboring riveted bridge made of sheet metal. It is also a form of local history and preservation of long gone buildings and infrastructure in model form.
Who should buy the German language book, which at first glance bludgeons you with its abundance of pictures and information? You should buy it if you have already seen Quiet Earth at a convention, in order to grasp the world of thought behind it and take another closer look. If you are a model builder who admires and pursues a certain perfectionism yourself, you will find many suggestions and downright tinkering tips, occasionally on suppliers and potential helpers for your projects. You will learn that no effort is too much for a perfectionist, even though you might never go that far.
Model railroaders with aspirations can use this book to learn from a very great expert to look much closer and expand their own skills. Last but not least, it is also an art book that allows detailed looks behind the scenes. The pictures will impress even people who previously had no interest in modeling or believed that we all just "play with trains". Many do, and that's legitimate, but a few of the Gauge 1 customers have moved on from that. They will appreciate the carefully designed layout of this book.
Volker Gerisch, Vollendete Baukunst, 10 Einblicke in 2 Projekte, 192 pages with ca. 750 images, 22,8 cm x 29,6 cm, Geramond, ISBN 9783964532961, €49.99.
Photo: Friedhelm Weidelich
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