Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bernd Becher redux

Following up on the news of Bernd Becher's passing, Sightandsound has re-posted a very good interview with the Bechers that took place in conjunction with a retrospective of their work:

"If against all expectations, Wim Wenders were to make another good film, set on dusty highways, in cheap motels and provincial coffee shops – these could be his heroes: two strangers in Alabama, sometime in the seventies, lovers, driven by one obsession. They've been waiting for the right light for weeks, just the right amount of cloud, to photograph the recently closed blast furnace at the local steelworks, just as they have photographed a hundred other blast furnaces before. It's a fight against the sun and the clock. In the evenings the man stands in a windowless shower room of a seedy five-dollar motel and develops the films while the woman prepares dinner on the gas stove. And again they'll have to wait for a day when the sun burns less mercilessly, a day, they fear, which could come too late.

The blast oven is up for demolition any day, only a lone trade unionist who they met the previous evening at the bar in "Logan's Roadgrill", seems still to have any hope. The government, a new investor, any one could step in at the last momentand save the region from decline. The strangers know better: the only thing that will remain are their pictures.

Bernd and Hilla Becher have taken thousands of them over the last 50 years. Photographs of winding towers and cooling towers, of silos, lime kilns and blast furnaces, of coal bunkers and gravel plants. They are the souvenirs of a world recently lost...." more here


Luis said...

An insightful interview, loaded for those who are reading carefully. A weld-the-cockpit shut, Kamikaze kind of commitment here.

The physical distance from the subject here is intelligently subverted by the unbridled passion, devotion and intimacy with the concepts driving their image-making. These are only superficially analytical.

I see art as a psychic generator, a visual catalyst, gestalt code, or bit of RNA that embeds itself in the viewer's being. Great art does this well, sometimes subtly, and for a lifetime.

Great art also inspires, generates and informs subsequent work.

The Bechers spawned an era and a dominant philosophy (with all the baggage that entails) in and of our time.

--- Luis

Ps. I find their work elegantly meditative. The variants become mantra-like for me.

Joe Reifer said...

Hadn't seen this interview -- thanks for posting it. I did a short piece on my blog a few months back about a short film on the Bechers in Contacts v.3.