PRINT September 2002

Linda Nochlin

THE MOST STRIKING ASPECT OF DOCUMENTA11 IS THE PREDOMINANCE OF THE documentary mode, for want of a better word. The work of Bernd and Hilla Becher occupies a central place in the genealogy of this sensibility—and in the space of the Kulturbahnhof itself. Their photographs constitute some of the earliest “documentation” (pace August Sander, the father of them all) that aspires to something beyond or different from conventional documentary, something which inevitably calls forth the idiom of art, conceptual or otherwise. In a recent Art in America interview with the Bechers, the crucial question of the relation of art to documentary is explicitly raised. The interviewer, Ulf Erdmann Ziegler, cites a text by Rudi Fuchs in which the author declares that “the question of whether Bernd and Hilla Becher’s work is a work of art is not so very interesting”; nevertheless, Ziegler points out

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