Candida Höfer

b. 1944, Eberswalde, Germany. Lives and works in Cologne, Germany


Candida Höfer
Candida Höfer, Bibliot Nazionale Marciana Venezia III, 2003


Photographer Candida Höfer’s ongoing Räume (Spaces) series documents the interiors of public or semi-public spaces. The series began with Höfer depicting waiting rooms and offices, but quickly transitioned into an interest in large cultural and institutional buildings from around Europe, such as palaces, museums, concert halls etc. Höfer was one of the first generation of pupils to study under Bernd and Hilla Becher at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf; their compositional precision and objective style clearly influencing Höfer greatly. Before this time her work was more traditionally documentary in style but always considered the role of places in shaping the human use and interaction. Her most famous series from that time is entitled Türken in Deutschland (Turks in Germany) (1979) a multi-format series that cemented her place as an artist of social importance. It captured a moment of intense cultural and social juxtaposition that resonates just as strongly today as it did when the Turkish Guestarbieter (‘Guest workers’) were first welcomed to Germany. Existing in the margins of German society the Turkish community in the 1970s was largely invisible to the rest of the world and to their ‘hosts’. Her endeavour to document and circulate these images in various formats including slide projections and Diaserien, or slide series, in which sheets of slides were published with sociologists’ writings about the Turks’ culture and history. The cinematic and experimental nature of this work can be seen translated into the large format interior photographs she is now well known for. Maintaining a standardised approach to her photography allows the disparate architectural styles Höfer captures to sit comfortably alongside one another. Her large-scale photos show a clear interest in order and symmetry, their often-high vantage points giving the locations a cavernous, imposing quality. Rather than her work serving as mere documentation Höfer emulates the atmosphere of these spaces, capturing their character. Devoid of any life in her images these spaces no longer provide the function they were designed for, allowing the viewer to contemplate how the architecture manipulates and guide the people who must move within them.