The Rabbit-Hole World of Water Towers and Blast Furances – Hilla Becher

 

The photographers world didnt like our photography
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They thought it would be either boring, old-fashioned
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and documentary only [chuckles]
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We knew that and we accepted that and it wasnt a problem
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The first, ah, major subject was industrial plants
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in the Siegerland
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because this area was the first, in Germany at least,
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to be abandoned
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That was a good reason to photograph it before its gone
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And Bernd grew up in this area
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It was about losing his childhood
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or preserving his childhood
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I was very fascinated by industrial buildings as well
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Slowly we developed this idea to photograph them
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with a larger camera and it was very static
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And since I had learned photography
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in a very old-fashioned way in the east of Germany,
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it was very satisfying to have this quality, you know,
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to have this fine grain and the beautiful gray
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There was all kinds of things like coal mines, blast
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furnaces, gas tanks,
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everything that had to do with steel industry,
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and the big subjects of water towers and that
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was the most fun
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They were not built by famous architects
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They just adapted to the situation
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Typology was my idea [chuckles]
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I was collecting book illustrations that
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had to do with biology and typologies
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That was really an influence
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We looked at some photos of cooling towers
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and we saw a certain pattern
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that repeats over and over again but has
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little differences
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By subject, by function, by time sometimes,
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and by other criterias that
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have to with static architecture, engineering and so on
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And we put them together and then it turned out
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It was almost like making a movie
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It really felt like a flip book
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and it was also good way to get some order
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The best photo typologies, the best structures
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are the ones that are symmetrical
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and they have a certain pattern but we had to learn all
02:23
this
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It wasnt there from the beginning
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We preferred very soft light
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If the light was too harsh we had to wait for a cloud
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or we had to wait for the winter
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or we had to wait for dawn
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and the object has to be separated from the sky
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We tried to get it as clear as possible
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It was all about understanding the subject
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I think that was very satisfying in a way
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and we both had the same opinion about that
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We didnt want to change things around
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We didnt want to romanticize it
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We tried to be as close as possible to what the subject
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wants to be
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If somebody is interested in cockroaches or in whatever
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strange things and you get deepdeeper and deeper
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and it gets more and more interesting,
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its about your own understanding and your own pleasure
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If you start something, you dont know how far you get
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And there are neverthere always are times
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that you almost give up but we had two, two people,
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and there was always one who said, Come on
bernd-hilla-becher-chevalements