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Insignificant Objects: Ditta Baron Hoeber--What is the allure?

Olga Dekalo: "It it accurate to say that the interior of your studio and home is the subject...?

Ditta Baron Hoeber: "It would be more accurate to say the subject is my experience of living and workin in the space that is my studio and my home."

At photography's inception, the promise of the medium was that it would be a truth-teller: "Photography deals with the actual," said John Szarkowski. With their fierce materiality, Ditta Baron Hoeber's Inscapes do just that. This is the thing itself: a physical bowl on a physical table, an actual napkin, a real collection of spools.'

These photographs bring you face to face with things in themselves and, in so doing, summon you to the wonder to be found in the world around you--even in the insignificant objects that inhabit the sewing box and the kitchen sink. In this way, they fulfill something of the medium's foundational promise: to present the actual world, to make you see the napkin, to take in the beauty of spools of thread.


Yet these images are far more than dry records of the physical realm. For all that fierce materiality, the Inscapes pictures prompt thoughts of a decidedly immaterial state of being--what Sid Sachs, writing of this work, describes as "the immense quiet emphatically echoing the gist and the Geist of things beyond spectacles."


Virtually all the Inscapes have been taken in the South Philly loft where Hoeber lives with her husband and their cat. But the loft space is only her ostensible subject, one that gives her the platform to explore her true subject: the time space that is all around us. This is the space with no fixed address--the space that is located in the intervals, in the interstices between and among objects. A black ceramic bowl hovers over a countertop; the folds of a napkin drift and fold back into one another; a supporting column and a column of light touch.

Not content with static, standalone images, Hoeber expands her reach by gathering them together in accordion books that create a new platform. So, just as each individual photograph probes the relationship among objects, the now-sequenced images interact to form new resonances. Working almost as a composer, Hoeber creates what are in a way time-based works.


The word space comes down to us from the Latin spatium, "room, area, distance, stretch of time" --a definition that proposes space as something both physical and temporal. Hoeber's photographs play with that kind of space--space and time as synonyms. "They encapsulate time inside space," as Sachs puts it, "calibrating time, inflected through passages, gaps, silences."


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