Recent Photographs by Boris Becker
"The great charm of Boris Becker's photographs is due to the fact that through the consequent isolation of his objects they appear mysterious and alienated which makes us curious to look closer with greater attention and to see things in a different way." (1)
Boris Becker belongs to a younger generation of artists whose approach towards
photography as a medium within contemporary art have been influenced by
the formal language of straight and documentary photography like it was
taught at the "Becher class" by Bernd Becher at the Dusseldorf
Art Academy. (2)
Many already internationally known artists such as Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte or Thomas Struth have been influenced by this school and developed their individual formal and esthetical language.
This also applies to Boris Becker whose photographic work over the last few years has developed with emphasis on different types of themes. His mainly large size formats concentrate on various themes such as architecture or for instance in the series of anonymous and numbered "fields" (Felder), landscapes regarded from a new point of view.
In the recent series of works entitled "Fakes", Boris Becker now moves into the realm of object-photography as well. Here, he presents various objects which are emphasised using very striking colour monochrome backgrounds. They are artefacts which have been confiscated by customs officers and are related to drug, economic and fashion faking offences.
Whether it is a black and in its formal appearance expressive hairdresser's chair which was - coming from Brazil to Germany - misused to carry cocaine and now appear in Becker's photograph in front of a yellow background or whether it's a pair of women shoes which were filled with cocaine as well; the selection of objects presented in Becker's imagery represent in a formally striking way both how they have been alienated from their original function by being criminally misused and in terms of a critical perception of the possibilities of photography as an objective document, its limitations to represent truth. With their pictorial settings Boris Becker exaggerates the well known patterns of advertising photographs and while using this language to present objects of decadent desire he presents at the same time the critical side of how and which longings and valuations are generated by advertising. Especially the motifs with fakes of fashion-labels like the picture showing a pile of blue jeans give a striking example of this critical input. The confidence in form as the transparent consequence of content appears within the Fakes as relative. Just like photography - even if it's used in a straight documentary way - represents only the surface of things, the Fakes being represented in the recent photographs of Boris Becker are not reliable in their originally mentioned function any more. Only their titles and the explanatory way of presentation of some of the objects reveal their double function.
Photography in its capacity of presenting aspects of reality is just like the covering of the objects in the images only representing the surface of a truth. The reflection about the ambiguity of its "real" content and the perception of a deeper reference must be fulfilled by the spectator.
The apparent bond of photography as a relic of reality which Roland Barthes in his famous essay (3) described as being a characteristic moment of photography appears within the Fakes as a crumbling facade behind which there are other critical realities to recognise.
As a consequence, the monochrome striking background of the Fakes functions as the aesthetic foil in front of which the object as being derived from its proper meaning obtain (beside the criminal aspect) a further life in the realm of art; to be considered independently in its pictorial qualities.
© Barbara Hofmann-Johnson, 2000
(1)Rupert Pfab, Exhibition catalogue: "Boris Becker", published by Städtisches Museum Zwickau, 1995, page 15
(2) Bernd Becher is the husband of Hilla Becher, both known for their consequent black/white photography series of early industrial buildings or houses
(3) Roland Barthes : "La chambre clair. Note sur la photographie.", Paris, 1980
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