Annette Kisling is a Berlin-based photographer whose work coolly examines the facades — the visual fronts — certain places present to the world. She usually works in black and white and organizes her photographs into series or suites. Her photos often isolate certain architectural features of nondescript or peripheral places: industrial buildings and glum little parks in Berlin, shuttered storefronts in Paris or Rotterdam, brick walls and cobbled streets in what could be any European city.
Kisling’s pictures aren’t documentary in nature; the impulse behind them is not to record what is. She doesn’t make portraits of places. Instead she establishes typologies, discovering patterns of visual affinity and variation in places one might not expect to find them. Kissling lingers in places that weren’t meant to be lingered in, looking hard at things one usually passes by. But there’s no attempt to get these places to divulge their secrets. It’s the surfaces that Kissling is interested in. The absence of people, the stark black and white with its rich modulations of grey, the sense of mute or stony facade — these give the pictures the feelings of sets. There are traces of human activity: graffiti, shreds of poster, awkward storefront signs. But whatever that activity was, it’s over now. The facades remain — inaccessible, dumb, gazing blankly back at the viewer.
Earlier this year, Kisling exhibited a series of photos taken in Berlin’s Hansaviertel section, where in the 1950s a neighborhood was created from the post-war rubble by such architects as Alvar Aalto, Walter Gropius, and Oscar Niemeyer. Kissling spent a year photographing certain aspects of the famous buildings. But her intent was not to record the architecture. Unusually for her, the pictures are in color, but the focus on material, volume, pattern and texture is characteristic. No people appear. The pictures are first and foremost compositions: they don’t so much depict as seem to stage certain conjunctions of light and space, certain arrangements of volume and texture.
For her Locker Plant show, Kisling exhibited photos from several series taken in Paris, Berlin, and Switzerland, as well as pictures taken recently in Marfa, Fort Davis, and Alpine.
Annette Kisling was born in Kassel, Germany, and currently lives in Berlin. She studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach and the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg. Kisling has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Germany and had solo shows in Rotterdam, Cologne, and Berlin, where she is represented by Galerie Kamm. In 2003 she spent twelve months in Rotterdam on a scholarship given by the Hessische Kultursiftung, Wiesbaden; in 2007 she spent six months working in Paris on a scholarship given by the Berlin cultural ministry. A book devoted to Kisling’s work, Quartier, has just been published by The Green Box Kunst Editionen, Berlin.
The Chinati Foundation's Artist in Residence program is generously supported by the Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation and the Chinati Contemporary Council. Chinati is grateful for the generous financial support of our members and the support and in-kind contributions of the people of Marfa.