new-york

Candida Höfer

Nicole Klagsbrun

If, as is often said, we live in a post-Enlightenment culture, it is only in the sense that new techniques with which to manufacture order (like the computer and television) have been invented. So while the classificatory systems of the Enlightenment, such as the archive, the library, and the museum, are becoming increasingly outmoded inventories of our “knowledge” of the world, they continue to operate as distinctly public sites of sociocultural organization.

It is in this respect that Candida Höfer’s work can be understood as having emerged from a lineage of German artmaking that remains firmly linked to the principles of the Enlightenment. Of course, Bernd and Hilla Becher’s typology of industrial edifices has come to be seen less as a direct figuration of Enlightenment intentions than as the conceptual end point of this kind of classification, one articulated within a photographic

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