Hamburg’s Warehouse District in Martin Tom Dieck’s Hundert Ansichten der Speicherstadt

Auteur / Author: 
Martin DE LA IGLESIA (Bibliothécaire, Allemagne)
Jeudi 25 Août 2011 - 17:00


Most texts that deal with Martin tom Dieck’s black-and-white comic Hundert Ansichten der Speicherstadt (Zürich: Arrache Cœur, 1997, French title: Vortex) claim that it depicts the eponymous warehouse district (Speicherstadt) in Hamburg, and that it is a wordless comic. As this paper shows, both claims are inaccurate. Although the architecture in tom Dieck’s drawings clearly refers to buildings in the warehouse district, the differences in the details are so obvious, that to speak of a straightforward depiction of the Speicherstadt is oversimplifying. The book isn’t absolutely wordless either: there are several pages which contain writing in various forms. Nevertheless it is true that most of its 150 pages are “silent”. By comparing Hundert Ansichten der Speicherstadt to other works that do rely on the use of words, e. g. Christoph Schäfer’s picture book Die Stadt ist unsere Fabrik (Leipzig: Spector Books, 2010), this paper explores the meaning of writing for the pictorial representation of actual, specific urban environments and cities in general and Hamburg in particular. It is also worthwhile to compare tom Dieck’s and Schäfer’s books in terms of an urban planning discourse: while Die Stadt ist unsere Fabrik directly chronicles recent anti-gentrification activism in certain districts in Hamburg, the surreal, almost deserted architectural backdrop in Hundert Ansichten der Speicherstadt can be read as a part of the debate on the future utilization of the late nineteenth century warehouses — a debate that was not yet concluded at the time when tom Dieck worked on his comic.