n.b.k. stands for Neuer Berliner Kunstverein; n.b.k. stands for changes through art. Founded in 1969, this Berlin-based art space focus on social, political and Berlin-specific themes. Over almost fifty years, it displayed art in a way that made it accessible to a wider public. Turning itself into a dynamic proscenium and mirror of the German capital’s young art scene, the institution invites its audience to actively take action into Berlin’s cultural process.
Within this context, the new Candida Höfer solo show presented by the New Berlin Art Society is an event full of significance. “Nach Berlin” is not only an evocative title that refers to Emil and the Detectives (1931), a film much appreciated by the artist herself; it also swings in the ambiguity of a double translation. Meaning both ‘to Berlin’ and ‘after Berlin’, the exhibit carries on playing with duality and features still and moving images. Between photographs and projections, it presents a variety of works that — away from the cinematic pictures of libraries that made the artist so famous — propose a reinterpretation of the abstracting process. Selecting roadsides, interior designs, textile interior details or floor and wall surfaces, here Höfer twists and turns the facet of Berlin architecture in order to outline a different portrait of the city.
As the film does, the show disappoints: if the visitor has come to n.b.k. looking for library shots, one will be left embittered. On the contrary, if the visitor is searching for brand new perspectives, one will be pleasantly surprised by basic forms and detached elements of an unusual Berlin. Introducing Höfer’s new path (which does not deny her previous method, but successfully completes it), n.b.k. puts in communication photographic and video works that examine how it could go on ‘after Berlin’. Hung on walls or arranged into showcases, the photographer activates an innovative reading, both of herself and of the subject she eternalizes. “Nach Berlin” stands for a new inception of the artist; “Nach Berlin” stands for an overturning of human anticipations about art and places.
Candida Höfer is one of the most famous and praised German contemporary artists. Born in 1944 in Eberswalde, she studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and now lives in Cologne. Former pupil of Bernd and Hilla Becher, she is internationally well-known for her large-format photographs of empty interiors and social spaces capturing the “psychology of social architecture”. Her works are featured in several public and private collections and have been shown worldwide by institutions such as: Kunsthalle Basel; Kunsthalle Bern; Portikus, Frankfurt/Main; Kunsthaus Bregenz; Museum Folkwang, Essen; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Power Plant, Toronto; Museum Ludwig, Cologne. With Martin Kippenberger, in 2003 she represented Germany at the Venice Biennale.