by Véronique Bergen

Upstream from the project of Gundi Falk, was the desire to question two important photographic movements that appeared in Germany during the 1950s: Otto Steinert's Subjektive Fotografie (1) and Hilla and Bernd Becher's Objektive Fotografie.(2) Downstream lies a subjective, radically free re-appropriation of the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Often punctuated by nine separate elements, the chemigrams*(3) explore a plastic syntax based on seriality and deletion. Connecting both figuration and abstraction, the forms are cut out, eroded, layered; splinters abound. The eye of the spectator doubts, hesitates, fascinated by these totems whose nature and meaning remain elusive. Some will discover a personal reactivation of the photographic work of the Becher’s on industrial buildings often abandoned (factories, blast furnaces, water towers ...). Others will read them without referring to the "anonymous sculptures" of the Bechers. They will dive into this world of disturbing textures, into this alphabet of towers, monoliths, columns whose movements jostle the geometry of forms.

Are we dealing with monuments ravaged by time, attacked by ruin, abandoned? Or with still-lives, objects bearing the marks of a volcanic eruption, of wear and tear or even of ocean tides, as can be seen from one unique chemigram reminiscent of Morandi's still lifes?

Distorting the documentary concern, bypassing Bernd and Hilla Becher's claim to objectivity, Gundi Falk turns the repetition into an Orson Wellesien ‘Rosebud’,(4) which is the password to access the work of time and to dive into the opaque and underground waters of memory.

She plays on the disturbances of perceptual recognition, on a dissolution of the object. Two elements contribute to the de-objectivation of the figures: the subjective imprint, the personal signature that the artist

brings on the one hand, the progression of the duration that corrodes the structures, on the other hand. With Gundi Falk, seeing does not follow

any protocol. Reality exists only dissolved in the unreal, in the kinetics of things that are wrongly thought to be frozen.

Where the Bechers set a repertoire of forms, Gundi Falk reveals the disappearance at the heart of the apparition, the movement of undertow that strikes any entity.

Through the variations of light, the creations take us on an archaeological adventure. Monumental buildings remain only spectral silhouettes, curious letters of a new alphabet, hybrid creatures, between stone and fungus, between the inanimate and the animated. They face us like geological creations emerging from the ground without the help of the hand of man. Gundi Falk creates anatomical boards of forms in crisis.

Other works present a twilight passage, a metamorphosis towards the dark. Buried under the ashes of Pompeii, under the apocalypse of Hiroshima, these megaliths resisted destruction, and now live as ghosts. Gundi Falk collects traces and murmurs of what has traversed the empire of centuries.

(1) The concept of Subjektive Fotografie was developed by Otto Steinert in 1951: "In the photographic act, it is the person who creates the photograph that is essential. I was one of his disciples, and I participated in S.F. 3." (zit. Pierre Cordier)

(2) In 1976, at the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf, Hilla and Bernd Becher founded a photographic movement in which the object is given the central position: the Objektive Fotografie. Their joint contribution to conceptual art was outstanding.

(3) In 1956, Pierre Cordier invented, named and defined the process of the chemigram: "it combines the physics of painting (varnish, wax, oil) and the chemistry of photography (photosensitive emulsion, developer, fixer) without a camera, without an enlarger and in full light”.

(4)‘Rosebud’ is an enigma from Citizen Kane, a 1941 film by Orson Welles.