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Bettina Hoffmann
From January 14th 2000 to February 19th 2000
Affaires infinies

"I is another." - this sentence from Arthur Rimbaud accompanies the debates about subject in the modern age like no other. In the photography of Bettina Hoffmann, it comes up as a triviality, almost insignificant. Two women on a bed, as though after an argument. Three women in a kitchen, in a tense, demanding atmosphere. Only when one takes a closer look, does it become apparent that the people in the picture are identical. Bettina Hoffmann fits self-portraits into realistic scenes, or the other way around: she unfolds them into a scenery of various, well-calculated roles.

"I is another" - the sentence has lost none of its frightfulness. An unusual mixture of intimacy and foreignness pervades Hoffmann’s photo-scenarios. They are family arrangements. The women portrayed, like sisters, know each other so well that there is no longer a need for words. The images generate their tremendous tension through the power gradient between the actors and the ambiguity of the scene, the suspension. The figures occupy exactly balanced positions within the social arrangement. At the same time, the images have the effect of a film stopped in motion: they make reference to an event, an incident, that controls the scene and yet lies outside of the picture.

Bettina Hoffmann works with ambivalence, with the conflict between proximity and distance, identity and foreignness, movement and standstill. This applies to the technique as well: the computer-worked images have the quality of original photos - they appear realistic, and at the same time remain synthetic and abstract.

"Photography destroys people, in that it portrays them," wrote Siegfried Krakauer - "it is not the person that emerges in the photograph, but the sum of that which can be stripped from him or her." As a side note, Hoffmann’s collages also show how photography, the medium of similarity and reproduction, can alter our conception of personal identity. - Andrea Roedig

Bettina Hoffmann grew up in West Berlin. She studied fine arts at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin, the Rijksakademie van beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam and at the California Institute of the Arts. She got several grants and took part in residency programs in Istanbul and Weimar. She lives and works in Berlin and Montréal. Some of her most recent exhibitions in1999 included Ego Alter Ego - The self portrait in contemporary photography, Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden, Private Eye - crimes & cases, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, CrossLinks, Galerie im Marstall, Berlin, space place, Kunsthalle Tirol, Austria. Her work was shown in Galerie Michael Cosar, Düsseldorf, Galerie in der Brotfabrik, Berlin (1998), Holländisches Bad, Kunsthaus Hamburg (1996), Cherchez la femme, Kunsthaus, Hamburg, Urbane Legenden - Berlin, Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, (1995).

Bibliographie
- Couëlle, Jennifer, «Moi…et moi», La Presse, 12 février 2000, p.D18.
- Lamarche, Bernard, «Traité des passions», Le Devoir, 12-13 février 2000, p.D9.
- Long, Sari, «Reality Betrayed. Bettina Hoffmann’s unorthodox photography opens at Optica», The McGill Daily, 20 janvier 2000, p.9.
- Mackay, Brad, «Multiple Selves. Hoffmann’s photography extols the sublime over the shocking», The Link, 18 janvier 2000, pp.6-7 + page couverture.
- Mavrikakis, Nicolas, «Pris sur le vif. À signaler», Voir, 20-26 janvier 2000, p.44.
- McLeod, Dayna, «Battle of Wills», Hour, 3–9 février 2000, p.27.
- «Bettina Hoffmann», Mix, hiver 1999/2000, p.22.