Struth is best known for his almost emotionless documentary photographs of visitors to some of the world’s greatest museums.
His more recent work, including his presentation in the North Gallery, continues his analysis of contemporary science and technology. The large scale photographs take us through NASA’s Johnston Space Centre, Siemens’ high voltage laboratory, MMM’s medical modelling program and IABG’s testing facility for air and space, security and defence assemblies. These are worlds that majority of us never encounter, and here, Struth blankly presents their technological magnificence in large format. Struth’s clarity of image is something that lends his work an extra level of wonder, exposing detail and elevating colour to new heights. These worlds seem simultaneously familiar, foreign and enticing.
In the adjacent gallery, a contrasting body of work is on show, taken during Struth’s time at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin. The institute studies the diversity of life histories and evolutionary adaptations and their limits. These smaller works are intimate and graceful, “I tried to depict the animals in a beautiful, dignified fashion. I’m interested in the idea of surrender: once you die, all the circus that you proactively create, the theatre, comes to a full stop”. It’s a surprising humanistic collection of images, potentially made more intimate because of the contrast of the technology next door.
Thomas Struth is on show until 22 December.
Images: Courtesy of mariangoodman.com