To the Zoo with Candida Höfer


To celebrate Lomography’s launch of the new WILD limited editions, let’s take a trip to the zoo with German photographer Candida Höfer.

CANDIDA HÖFER. Zoologischer Garten Madrid I, 1995. via CAAC

By now we’ve probably all seen and swooned over the new additions to the Lomography camera collections: the Diana F+ Zebra and Diana Mini Leopard, the Fisheye 2 Python and the La Sardina Reptilias. The crowd has gone, well, WILD for them. I, for one, can’t keep my eyes off the La Sardina Orinoco Ochre. It’s orange and it hisses – haha no, I’m just kidding about the last one.

Candida Höfer, Zoologischer Gärten Hamburg I, 1990 C-print, ed. of 6, 10 1/4 × 18 1/2 in. via Rena Bransten Gallery

But down to some serious photography related to exotic animals now. In the early 90s, Candida Höfer dedicated herself to a series of work she shot in zoos all over Western Europe: Germany, Spain, England, France, and the Netherlands.

Candida Höfer, Zoologischer Gärten Paris II, 1997, C-print, ed. of 6, 10 1/4 × 14 5/8 in. via Rena Bransten Gallery

The shots, as you could have expected, are not your run off the mill fun-day-at-the-zoo-with-the-kids sort of job. They’re calculated, meticulously composed and at times even witty. I find the zebra shot tremendously hilarious. It has a ‘fail!’ feeling to it which makes you wonder about the psychological situation of the poor zebra in her wallpapered home.

Candida Höfer, Zoologischer Gärten London, 1992 via Rena Bransten Gallery, UBS and Kultur Online
Höfer, Candida, Zoologischer Garten Hannover II, C-print, 50.5 × 72.5 cm via UBS

The penguin shots, taken in London, together with the seals shot in Hannover are also amongst my favourites. The seals especially, for the pictorial quality the photo possesses and the calm, desolation it imparts.

None of the photos I found conveys sadness I find, but neither do they convey happiness. They’re more of a clinical representation. Not a commentary. Höfer records but she doesn’t make or imply a statement. Her job is not to pass judgement, it is to photograph.

Image via eBay

If you’re interested in seeing more of Candida Höfer’s Zoologischer Gärten series, a catalogue published by Schirmer/Mosel is available. Good luck if you take your new animal print camera to the zoo! Don’t let the monkeys get too close to it!

written by webo29 on 2012-02-05 in #lifestyle

One Comment

  1. emperornorton
    emperornorton ·

    I'm happy to live near two of the greatest zoos in the world -- San Diego and Los Angeles. It's interesting to see how these European zoos house their animals. I would have liked to see some contrast with the American zoos. These look like my local zoos used to look before they were modernized. Needing to keep the animals heated makes a difference!

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