The series En Mexico was done during Candida Höfer’s sojourn in our country in October 2015. From a preliminary selection among the thousands of important buildings that constitute Mexico’s rich architectural heritage, the artist chose for this first approximation, the 40 she was more interested in photographing. A further selection was made taking into consideration time available, geographical difficulties, and distances. Finally, 15 iconic buildings in different places were selected.
Candida Höfer and her team traveled through Jalisco, Guanajuato, State of Mexico, Puebla, and Oaxaca, as well as Mexico City during twenty days. The results are over 60 large-format photographs, plus a considerable number of smaller images taken with a camera that the artist always carries with her. In addition, Höfer made a couple of projections that give context and local color to her more formal photographs, and represent a new line in her recent work.
In 1976, Professors Bernd and Hilla Becher founded the academic course of Artistic Photography at the famous Düsseldorf Art Academy. Their teachings were very effective and influential and as a consequence the so called Dusseldorf School was formed, oriented towards a “New Objectivity,” a search for reality without personal interpretations, distinguished by applying a typological and serial perspective to the representation of apparently banal or casual everyday motives.
Candida Höfer graduated from the Bechers’ in 1982. At that time she was the only female photographer in a world of men. Initially she produced a few series in small formats, comprehensive studies such as Turks in Germany, portraying the immigration that in the 80s was already important. She also photographed zoos and ethnographic museums, following the conceptual guidelines of the Bechers.
An important moment in photography occurs in the nineties with the emergence of large format printers and the subsequent production of large-sized photo paper, allowing printing in different sizes. These technological advances overturned the medium, both at a conceptual and visual level. Photography can now compete with painting and acquires a striking presence in the world of contemporary art.
Candida Höfer begins then to conceive the photography that will be her personal stamp and that projected her to the contemporary art scene. Her leitmotif are the interiors of iconic buildings applying a strict methodology in her shots: a search for symmetry; frontality; vanishing point; the use of existing light in spaces, whether natural or artificial, without using flashes or lamps; as well as her interest in public or private spaces (theaters, palaces, libraries, museums, waiting rooms, auditoriums, churches) in the total absence of human presence.
Paradoxically, the emptiness of her images works as a psychological portrait of the social exchange that occurs in those places. Implicit in those spaces, the human presence is perceived only through its traces: in the configuration of forms, in the choice of colors, in the placement of objects. It is as if she wanted to capture the imprint left by people in the places they inhabit, trying to discover their aura, the intimate history of the buildings through the passage of time, the stories told when, as if by magic, they have become empty.