Critics’ Picks

Untitled, 2003.


Alexander Rischer

Galerie für Landschaftskunst
Admiralitätstraße 71
June 18–August 21

With his documentary-style black-and-white photos, Hamburg artist Alexander Rischer conducts a kind of visual archaeology, excavating a specific sector of European cultural history. He traveled extensively to find and document the ruins of medieval churches, focusing on sacred objects like Feldsteinkirchen (ancient stone chapels found in the countryside), Totenleuchten (lamp-topped pillars placed in graveyards to provide light for the souls of the dead), and Außenkanzeln (exterior pulpits). Rischer always photographs in daylight, and his subjects look like sculptures—preternaturally still and disconnected from everyday reality—under his precisely directed gaze. A poetic typology, which might be compared to that of Bernd and Hilla Becher, emerges. More ancient and somehow even more aloof than the Bechers’ industrial ruins, Rischer’s archaic subjects appear almost exotic, simultaneously imbued with aura and neutralized by his flatly objective style. They seem to be keeping their own council, protecting the secrets of their histories.

Translated from German by Emily Speers Mears.