Erased (Palimpsest III)
2021 - 2023
From the late 1950s, Bernd and Hilla Becher initiated a photographic inventory of the architectural heritage from the industrial era, then marked by obsolescence and destined for disappearance. Their photographs, perfectly neutral due to their adherence to a systematic protocol, unveil the formal variations among the buildings photographed (blast furnaces, gas holders, water towers, etc.), which they refer to as Anonymous Sculptures.
In resonance with their work, the Erased series actualizes a process of erasure operating here at an earlier stage. Focusing on blue water towers against clear skies, captured frontally in direct sunlight, these images reveal only evanescent outlines. In this way, they symbolize the paradigm shift at play in the post-industrial society which now strives to conceal its underlying material infrastructures. This is particularly true for the physical structures at the core of the digital world (data centers, undersea cables, rare earth mines, etc.), perpetuating the myth of the immateriality of digital images and files.
This series is part of a larger body of work initiated in 2019, titled Palimpsests. This term refers to a parchment where the original writing has been erased to make way for a new text, with the initial text remaining however partly visible by transparency. Indeed, these projects take the form of contemporary rewritings of iconic works from the history of photography, translated into the new context of digital society. Initiating a dialogue with techniques and theories of the past, they offer a reflection about the concept of post-photography and question the evolution of the medium in the era of its alleged disappearance.
Bernd & Hilla Becher, Water Towers :