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DISTANCE AND PROXIMITY (GERMANY)
BERND & HILLA BECHER / ANDREAS GURSKY / CANDIDA HOFER / AXEL HUTTE / SIMONE NIEWEG / THOMAS RUFF / JORG SASSE / TOMAS STRUTH / PETRA WUNDERLICH
6/3 - 30/3 1998
GOETHE INSTITUTE



This exhibition is dedicated to the spare and translucent photographic idiom of Bernd and Hilla Becher, the inspiration of so many important art photographers who studied with them in the Dusseldorf Academy of Fine Arts.



Photography functions as a medium for visual action, the selection of a specific theme which is then represented photographically in a multiplicity of typological variants. Their interest is concentrated on buildings of "anonymous formation", on an "architectless architecture": water towers, blast furnaces, factories, silos, as well as buildings from our urban landscapes, always set out serially in "photo- typologies". It is their aesthetic form, functional rather than superficial, that attracts the interest of the photographer, who approaches them not romantically, as the creations to be preserved of a disappearing age, but as the expression of creative human volition. Recording their subjects in their remote and technically impeccable manner, always with the same light and weather conditions, at the same time of day, from the same optical angle, and always in black and white, they enable their motifs to acquire a life of their own, as if they were animate beings subject to the laws of genesis and decay. Seen through this prism, they reveal an aesthetic integrity, albeit dictated initially by functional form. The artist with his individualistic and sentimental vision retreats to the margin, choosing serial presentation as his artistic principle. The isolated is of less importance than the difference between it and its successor.



The photo-typologies of the Bechers are entirely appropriate to the aloof and objective problematic of the Avant-garde. The work of the Bechers, indeed, was not appreciated and studied until the early 1970s, in the context of the discussions on the Avant-garde and as a counterpoise to "Subjective Photography".
The artists themselves describe their work as "Typologies of industrial buildings", explaining that: "The idea is to create families of motifs. Motifs that become humanised and destroy one another, as in Nature where the older is devoured by the newer".