Photographs by Heidi Specker.
Steidl / Sprengel Museum,
96 pp., 46 color illustrations, 9½x11".
Conventional wisdom holds
the practical view that reality
takes place in the blur
between extremities; that life
thrives not at remote poles
but across the fat middle of
the planet; that the truth of an
argument lies somewhere
between opposing beliefs;
and that details are found in
the layers of gray between contrasting values.
Photographers, though, are better suited than most to
challenge and manipulate judgments of value, at least visually, and it’s refreshing to find German photographer
Heidi Specker intuiting strange truths about our collective
surroundings by exposing graphic extremes found in
tightly cropped, carefully controlled images of nature’ s
intersection with architecture. Im Garten is a collection of
studies that cleverly makes use of contrast to find commonality.
The images reveal how the built environment
emulates nature, both intentionally—as the grain texture
left in cast concrete by plywood forms—and organically,
like the veiny branching of tar strips repairing cracks in
asphalt. Specker’s trick is to use subtle digitization of her
film to allow the flattening of an image until a tree
against a building becomes one inexplicable plane or,
conversely, to suddenly prolong the depth of field along
a low wall dissecting a hedge. This twilight cusp of perception
and perspective that Specker traverses indeed
reveals a garden at the edge of visual understanding,
happily contained in a simple, startling and text-free
book. ZANE FISCHER
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