March 11 - April 10, 2010
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Rena Bransten Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of Candida Höfer’s photographs from her zoologische gärten series. In these works, Höfer shifts her focus away from interiors to take viewers on an international tour of zoos in Germany, Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands. Implementing her typically descriptive style, Höfer’s images again seek to deconstruct the role institutions play in defining the viewer’s gaze by documenting animals in their caged environments. Enclosures, which the viewer begins to sense are, in fact, elaborate stage settings - modernist imaginings of a utopian natural world. However, the exotic, wild animals such as alligators, elephants, tigers, and giraffes appear listless, despondent, and are turned away from the camera – marginalized within their own surroundings. Within this context, Höfer strips the zoos of their magical luster, revealing not only the vast disparity between reality and the idealized, but also, perhaps, offering commentary on exactly how passive the gaze of the viewer within an institutional environment has become.
Höfer was born in Eberswalde, Germany and studied photography with Bernd & Hilla Becher. She has shown extensively internationally at renowned institutions such as Le Louvre in France, Kunstaus Hamberg in Germany, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin. In 2010, her work will be exhibited at Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla and MARCO Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo in Spain, and the Oldenburger Kunstverein in Germany.