Critics’ Picks

Irrhain des Pegnesischen Blumenordens Nürnberg-Kraftshof, 2005, silver gelatin print, 21 1/4 x 15".

Hamburg

Alexander Rischer

Durstewitz Sapre
Carsten-Rehder-Straße 45
May 20 - August 19

Using black-and-white photography, Alexander Rischer uncovers historical threads that lie beyond the mainstream; his austere images contain histories that bear witness to distant ways of life. This exhibition, which covers several years, presents sacred historical monuments and small-scale, often-provincial architecture. The function and meaning of these constructions—round towers, dovecotes, exterior pulpits, “soul windows,” and misery crosses—have largely been forgotten today; they project themselves into the secular present like spectral, silent witnesses. As such, Rischer’s photographs often trigger thoughts about the nature of time and the transience of beliefs. Yet Rischer is not didactic: Although the photographs are impregnated, as it were, with his extensive knowledge of the customs, rites, and curiosities of past centuries, he does not use the images to explain anything. Instead, he shows us something ruled by its own temporality. The construction of this distance is the source of the work's rigor and quality—and even a bit of humor. One observes how the portrayed objects seem to slip into absentia; history creates gaps and threatens us with forgetfulness. Hegel described this by means of the beautiful image of the “fury of disappearance”; here, Rischer is one of its documentarians.