Candida Höfer, Binding Brauerei Kassel I 2004, color photograph, 61 x 61".

Candida Höfer, Binding Brauerei Kassel I 2004, color photograph, 61 x 61".

Candida Höfer

Galleria Marabini

Candida Höfer, Binding Brauerei Kassel I 2004, color photograph, 61 x 61".

Exhibition spaces in museums and private collections were the subjects of the photographs in this recent show—but always without artworks, having been photographed immediately before the installation or afterward, when the works had already been taken down. “Candida Höfer/Kuehn Malvezzi,” as the show was titled, established a relationship between the analytical eye of the Cologne photographer and the equally rigorous practice of the Berlin-based architectural firm. In Höfer’s photographs, space is an absolute protagonist, its dimensions analyzed in each shot, defined within the geometric structure, articulated by variations in light, and described in its constituent details. There is a sort of identification of photographic representation with spatial reality, as if the photographer were recognizing herself in the language of the architecture—or vice versa, since if it is true that Höfer’s images interpret the spaces designed by Kuehn Malvezzi, the architects in turn redesigned the space of the Church of Santa Maria della Neve, in which Galleria Marabini is housed, to accommodate the nine works by Höfer. The result is a sort of conceptual loop that concluded with the photographs (not in the show) that the German artist subsequently made of her own exhibition.

The layout of the installation was meticulous, the distribution of the works clinical. The gallery’s white, modular exhibition panels, normally placed against the walls—since the church is under protection as a cultural monument—were grouped in the center of the space to form a volume that proposed a summarized version of the plan of the church, made up of nave and apses. Lining the long sides was a sequence of images of the spaces of the Binding-Brauerei in Kassel, renovated by Kuehn Malvezzi in 2002 to accommodate Documenta 11, and the interiors of the Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf. The smaller side, however, had the only two images in the show that were not of exhibition spaces: Rieck-Halle Berlin X 2004 depicts the bar at the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection, while Art Cologne Köln I 2005 does not document a real space, as Höfer’s work usually does, but instead its simulation in a design model. The view is so precise that one can even make out the pins used to attach miniature replica works to the model’s polystyrene walls. All the other images picture empty exhibition spaces, analyzed exclusively from a spatial viewpoint, as if their true nature were derived from the quality of the architecture more than from the works they are meant to display. Binding Brauerei Kassel I 2004, for example, depicts the site after the show has come down. It is an environment that is still conceptually intact, despite clear signs of the activity that has just taken place there: the scratched walls, visible traces of installations, and plaster detritus on the furnishings designed for the occasion—unequivocal proof that the absolute rigor of the design endures unaltered, forever immortalized by the artist’s photographic eye.

Filippo Romeo

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.