the sense that new techniques with which to manufacture order (like the computer and television) have been invented. So while the classificatory systems of the Enlightenment, such as the archive, the library, and the museum, are becoming increasingly outmoded inventories of our “knowledge” of the world, they continue to operate as distinctly public sites of sociocultural organization.
It is in this respect that Candida Hofer’s work can be understood as having emerged from a lineage of German artmaking that remains firmly linked to the principles of the Enlightenment. Of course, Bernd and Hilla Becher’s typology of industrial edifices has come to be seen less as a direct figuration of Enlightenment intentions than as the conceptual end point of this kind of classification, one articulated within a photographic discourse that has little to do with “straight-documentary” practice, while Hofer’s work seems to indicate an effort to move toward the threshold of “subjective” investment or inscription.Whereas the Bechers have constructed an archive of architectural exteriors foregrounding the notion of cultural progress implicit in their synthesis of utilitarian program and utopian modern design, Hofer has focused upon the interior of various public edifices–the museum, the archive, and the library. Hofer’s rooms and spaces are invariably depopulated, so that their “function” as zones of social ordering lingers only as a trace of memory (or imagination): the residue of moments and situations now invisibly embossed, like a phantom history, upon the architecture.