Bernd and Hilla Becher

 

Contemporary German Photography


I tried to find photos by the Bechers but I wasn’t too successful. Here are some of their water towers, above you can see some of the frame-work houses. The Goethe Institute has a nice bio and some notes on their work: “Founders of a new German school of Sachlichkeit , or objectivity, the uncompromising way they have catalogued the twilight of the industrial era has been seen by many as a homage to, or a glorification of, western industriality. Perhaps. Looking a little further, one can begin to see inconsistencies and slippage in a parody of a catalogue of the real.” (at the very bottom of that page, there are three links to photos)

PS: It’s quite interesting that the word “objectivity” isn’t a completely exact translation of the German word “Sachlichkeit”. Maybe I’m too anal about it (you might think) but in being that I am actually following that kind of concept to a certain extent. Of course, I can’t come up with a better translation. Maybe you can understand it like this: When you meet a German you’ll note that they are almost a tad too deadpan about things. I’ve noticed that non-Germans think Germans simply have no sense of humour but that’s just a simplifying misconception. I remember I once made a somewhat absurd joke in front of my advisor in grad school - a Brit - and he thought I was being serious. He just couldn’t imagine a German would say something like that, with a deadpan expression, and joke at the same time.

There’s a lot of Sachlichkeit in many Germans. You state things the way they are and that’s it. Of course, it’s somewhat absurd if a German tries to explain something like that - how could you ever make sense talking about yourself? - but maybe you got an idea of what this is all about.