Sunday, April 29, 2007

Candida Hofer

Still thinking about the landscapes of Elger Esser, contrasting them to Edward Burtynsky, which is probably not fair. But thinking of how photographers deal with space--and why a photograph may be the appropriate mode of capturing space in our uncontainable present, or perhaps (and here I'm thinking of Rachel Whiteread among others) more accurately, our uncontainable absence...
I am haunted by "Architecture of Absence," the Candida Höfer exhibit I saw last year at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. The large format images resonate with human potential--their emptiness speaking somehow to that potential. There is no nostalgia, no sorrow, but rather a revelation of intention, of expectation. Entrance ways, libraries, museums, theaters--all reverberating with human presence, despite the absence of human form. As if the hands that created the forms, and placed the forms, and picked up and put down the forms, were hovering there. And perhaps it is scale: the grand canvas, the sheer number of objects she is able to include. The images become a kind of cabinet of curiosity. Then there is light, the way Hofer courts it as it falls through space.

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