“the structures in the bechers’ original photographs are almost identical, though in khan’s hands the images’ contrast and opacity is adjusted to ensure each layer can be seen and has presence. though khan works in mechanised media and his images are of industrial subjects, their effect is of a soft ethereal energy. they exude a transfixing spiritual quality in their densely compacted details and ghostly outlines.”

27/06/2012 § 3 Comments

works by idris kahn
from the top down:  every… bernd and hilla becher gable sided house (2004)
every… bernd and hilla becher prison type gasholder (2004)
every… bernd and hilla becher spherical type gasholder (2004)


when bernd and hilla becher first went around the german countryside to photograph various industrial complexes they, like most any one, felt as though gasholders were all the same.  it wasn’t until they began accruing more and more portraits of the steam punk objects, that individual characteristics began to appear.  so maybe its fitting that idris kahn’s ‘super-image,’ as he refers to them, obliterated any differences by overlaying all the portraits revealing an ideal form of a gasholder, or a gable.


single super-image

a young hare




[title + images]     today’s title and image were taken from idris kahn’s artist profile on the saatchi gallery website.

[for more typology]     bernd and hilla were previously mentioned here on ayh.  and, i can’t help but link to an older post on alec soth’s studies of old texas theaters.

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.

thirty three theaters and a funeral home

08/01/2011 § 1 Comment

Alec Soth From Here to There Walker Art Center

Alec Soth Texan Theater

all images used with permission from alec soth.
top to bottom: map of travels (2006), texas theater – greenville, texas (2006), gallery shot – walker art center (2010)


a couple of blocks down from my childhood home was an old theater.  it was one of those iconic theaters built in the early half of the 20th century affixed with the typical very large landmark sign limned in big bright bulbs.  it should be hard to miss.

unfortunately, as a young kid i didn’t take enough advantage of the proximity of a theater.  not long after we settled into the neighborhood, though long enough for my brother to experience being thrown out for sneaking into r-rated movies, the theater closed.  it was eventually replaced by a hollywood video.  yay.  it seemed an odd decision given that mr. movies was just down the block.  the glitz and glam of hollywood video did not out last mr. movies.

returning from my recent trip home i realized that i never looked to see what replaced the hollywood video.  i must have passed in font of the old theater a handful of times.  yet no matter how large the sign out front is, these monuments to the true high point of cinema now reside voiceless in the din of the city.

to underline this point, i spent five days in greenville, texas back in 2004.  a couple of friends and i had set up a refugee camp in a our friend ted’s parent’s living room.  we rode out the potential hurricane threat of ivan on new orleans in the calm comforts of this medium sized texas town.  five days in greenville and i have no memories of a onetime theater now quiltshop.  but, i do remember the good asian restaurant with a lazy susan.

from here to there: alec soth’s america was an expansive and inspiring meandering through one man’s america.  with so many interesting projects in his portfolio i was especially interested in a series of images titled thirty three theaters and a funeral home.  inspired by wim wenders, soth documents defunct theaters in texas, in the style of the bechers, complete with a map of his travels.  if you ever have the chance to see his work, i demand you go.

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