“I wanted to make pictures that felt natural, that felt like seeing, that didn’t feel like taking something in the world and making a piece of art out of it.” Stephen Shore
What does it mean to explore the essence of things through photography? Is it possible to show what holds the world together internally—not just its surface appearance? The immaterial is impossible to document directly. Cultural developments and contexts are most clearly manifest in everyday situations, banal objects, unremarkable landscapes, and faceless places. Stephen Shore’s photographic series record, preserve, and reflect on those traces of human life that are normally passed over, considered unworthy of representation. A chronicler of the unspectacular, Shore uncovers the structures and subtle inner workings of our Western culture. In his work, the act of photographing becomes an attempt to examine the self and the external world, to arrive at deeper understanding through observation. At the same time, his work is an attempt to understand and find new ways of thinking about the medium of photography. Stephen Shore’s conceptual approach and his ongoing experimentation—spanning a range of genres, themes, and techniques—establish him as a pioneer and one of the most important visionaries in photography today; an artist who is continually reinventing himself. Due to the diversity of his different series and projects during his career, at first glance Stephen Shore’s oeuvre seems to fit easily into established documentary and narrative photographic traditions. Yet for Shore, the “decisive moment” is irrelevant, and chance plays only a minor role. He uses these categories and visual languages instead as stylistic devices to give visual expression to his conceptual ideas about reality. Bound only by his own constantly evolving rules, he frees himself from widely accepted conventions of photographic medium and continually explores and redefines its limitations and possibilities. For this reason, Stephen Shore is an important and ever-present point of reference for artists working today, and one of only a very few bridging figures who defy easy categorization solely on the basis of either visual results or working methods. His system of references reveals the strength of his body of work as a mixture of documentary and artistic reflection. The exhibition includes over 300 pictures–some of them never published. It was organized by Fundación MAPFRE in collaboration with C/O BERLIN, and was curated by Marta Dahó and Felix Hoffmann. C/O Berlin will be the only place of Stephen Shore’s retrospective in Germany. A catalog accompanying the exhibition has been published by Kehrer Verlag. This first retrospective of Stephen Shore’s work unfolds chronologically, shedding light on the three most significant aspects of Stephen Shore’s oeuvre as well as his unique contribution to the culture of photography. The exhibition also presents some of the most important interpretations that his work has inspired over the last four decades.