an industrial lexicon

11/01/2011 § Leave a comment

bernd and hilla becher

“in his introduction, fuchs states “that the question of whether bernd and hilla becher’s work is a work of art is not so very interesting.”  he points out, though, that “obviously only in art could they find the motivation” for their gigantic task, and then concludes that they work precisely as artists do, since they rigidly limit their interest to a few chosen subjects and refuse to let themselves be distracted by anyone, scientist or historian, who would present a different visual approach.”

ulf erdmann ziegler:  when did your photography take on a form? was the discovery of this form already a part of your collaboration with mr. becher?

hilla becher: the collaboration arose from only the interest that could be shared; that was what appealed to me.

uez: did that mean becoming tied up in industrial history, in the history of specific plants, at that time?

bernd becher: there couldn’t be any talk of that then.  my development has taken a somewhat different path.  my first intentions were to photograph the objects – the non-architectural industrial structures – and then to cut the pictures out, to paste them together as montages, as collages.  to avoid overlaps, i photographed from a ladder.  then from the prints i would cut out the wall of a house in order to end up with 20 house walls, which i assembled in a collage.  while photographing, i noticed that if one stands up high, the object one is photographing becomes integrated into the background, which opens out.  then we saw that if the photographs are placed side by side, they begin to relate.  you can very well perceive things that differ little from each other as individual elements, if you assemble them in groups.  the workers’ houses or the winding towers (for hoisting) look very similar, and you could think that they came from a production series, like cars.  only when you put them beside each other do you see their individuality.   when you approach the theme of industry and everything that goes with it in this manner, you make discoveries.  anyway, it so happened that these plants were torn down.  particularly in the siegerland, from about 1950 on, the foundries began closing.  then one mine after another closed.  i felt the need – i don’t want to say the duty – to document these things.

 

for the full introduction to hilla and bernd becher as well as the interview by ulf erdmann ziegler from art in america’s june 2002 issue visit the amazing american suburb x.

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