Road to Nowhere

Chronicling the Eerie Collection of Abandoned Gas Stations

German photographer Robert Götzfried likes to keep us on our toes. When we last spoke to him he was deep in the woods, capturing hunting posts. But his latest series, Fill’Er Up! is a change of pace, making for an eerie visual diary of abandoned gas stations across the US. Whilst they both share a sense of isolation, aesthetically, culturally and of course geographically, they are worlds apart.

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“I found it interesting that there are so many things that haven’t been touched by a human beings for so many years. Where I come from these things probably would have been destroyed by people within a year or less,” Robert ruminates. “In the states they just ‘add a history’ by getting older. They get that kind of patina that you can’t fake – it grows because people leave them alone.”

Robert clocked up a pretty impressive 2400 miles in the space of two weeks, traversing the less trodden roads from Washington DC down to Nashville, Tennessee. By avoiding the interstate highways Robert was able to meet a host of colourful characters:

“When I was taking pictures of a gas station an older guy in his 60s with a really rocked down Ford truck came around the corner,” he recalls. “We took the flat tire off the truck and I drove him back the ten miles to the mechanic. I met great people there and I had a lovely cold beer in the most amazing garage in the world!”

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We caught up with Robert following his latest adventure:

The Plus: It seems most of your projects have one focus in each of them, what’s the reason behind that?
Robert Götzfried: I like to think in grids. When I think of a certain topic I want to show every possible way I am able to. That makes me do weird things like travelling to the other side of the world to capture a set of Australian homes or gas stations in the southern states of the USA. A single picture might be nice to look at but I strongly believe that a series gives a certain topic a deeper meaning.

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TP: What’s your favourite city and why?
RG:
That’s a hard one. My wife is Australian and I love Sydney every time I go there. I’m from a small town in southern Germany and I love it for different reasons. When I went to Helsinki I was thrilled by all the amazing architecture… I could probably come up with an answer if you asked about my 10 favourite cities in a none specific order but a single one is just impossible.

What I want to say is that it changes because I change and I think that’s a good thing. That helps me coming up with new things. I guess that’s why I’m travelling to different places and that’s why I love them all the same at the time.

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