Journey of discovery

Lothar Baumgarten – Interstate 40 crossing, […]

Lothar Baumgarten, Interstate 40 crossing, Santa Fe Railway tracks between Albuquerque and Gallup, Cibola County, New Mexiko, from the series Carbon, 1989, silver gelatin print, 69,2 x 83,8 cm, Courtesy of Lothar Baumgarten Nachlass, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris / London & Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2020

The fate of indigenous American peoples is the subtle focus of the Carbon-series from 1989. For four months, Lothar Baumgarten travelled through the United States to document a photographic essay on the pioneering work during the colonization of the country. Signal installations, steel bridges and train tracks, references to industrial success, cut through the vast landscapes, the living spaces of other humans. The photographs illustrate the encounter of two cultures with entirely different goals and ideas of life. Baumgarten’s titles perpetuate the private companies that exploited the “newly discovered” habitat. 

Thirty years later, the photographs have not lost their topicality. On the contrary: The trauma of entire peoples in North America also stands for other places where ruthless progress is sometimes only just beginning.


Southern Pacific Transportation Co. and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited, Cotton Belt Route, Presidio County, Texas

State Route 90, Longfellow, Pecos County, Texas

Sioux sepulcher trees, Little Bighorn River, Crow Indian Reservation, Bighorn County, Montana

Burlington Northern Railroad, Dutton II, Teton County, Montana

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Boxcar

Kansas City Southern Railway and Missouri Pacific System, Steel cantilever bridge, Mississippi River, Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge County, Louisiana

Southern Pacific Transportation Co. and Amtrak’s Sunset Limited, Continuous cantilever deck structure 1, Recos River, Val Verde County, Texas