Some of the more subtle technical and aesthetic currencies of architectural design are found in the details of space, namely, how that design deals with, circulates and shapes the spatial conceptions of any given construction. Throughout her career, Candida Höfer has captured these deep design concerns through brightly-lit and grand photographs, and the artist turns this gaze to Düsseldorf, Germany for her newest exhibition at Sean Kelly Gallery, a show of large C-Print photographs elegantly laid out throughout a two-floor, multi-series exhibition. Höfer’s work is presented in three parts: color photographs of grand interiors, multi-level buildings altered to form curving spirals, and even a series of much smaller-scale observations of space.
Höfer’s dramatic interiors invite us into vacant the sites of pleasure and meditation, namely religious institutions and performing arts spaces, and while it is unclear if the artist intends to conceptually challenge the grandiose altars and stages of her subjects – she still subverts the awe-inspiring height of a pastor’s pedestal by making it a minute detail in the center of apses, pillars, balconies and pews. Concurrently, Höfer reverses the focal center of large auditoriums from a glamorous stage to turn the focus to the operational facilities that equip the space for contemporary performances, such as projection and sound booths. Each striking photograph possess a luminscent quality in which the vividly captured rooms glow with light and color. These images allow architecture to tell its ornate stories of populations, lineages, Roman Catholic narratives, organ concerts, vestibule meetings and cues for shows about to go on.
Looking at the spiral images from the Neuer Stahlhof Düsseldorf series, Höfer pressurizes depth by cutting sharply along architecturally constructed spiral forms. Floors and levels take on elliptical proportions, emphasizing trajectories for light bouncing off of multiple railings, walls, steps and ledges. By sourcing the texture of tiles and steps, in Neuer Stahlhof Düsseldorf II (2012) Höfer develops a tempo gesturing to the concentrated limits of an upwards gaze: it is a playful interaction with progressive forms, flattening foreground elements into receding spaces. Höfer is well-known for the echoing stillness of her photographic interiors, sans people, and with this series, she carves another technique in enlivening a static structure.
The Ohne Titel series, by contrast depict continuous spaces via reflections, patterns, or shadows. Höfer joyfully obfuscates unassuming spaces by capitalizing with illusions of depth, lengths, and occupancies, using a reserve of simple architectural lines to direct us to underlying design considerations discoverable in buildings.
Höfer’s show is on view through June 20th.
Candida Höfer Ohne Titel Düsseldorf (2012) at Sean Kelly Galley Image via Bria Cole for Art Observed
Candida Höfer Ohne Titel Düsseldorf III (2012) at Sean Kelly Galley Image via Bria Cole for Art Observed
— B. Cole