Helene Binet at the RA, review: Architectural photography at its finest

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Helene Binet at the RA, review: Architectural photography at its finest
© Provided by City AM

In her first major retrospective, photographer Helene Binet’s work at the Royal Academy offers a fresh look at the lines found in architecture. 

Over a 35 year career, the internationally acclaimed Swiss-French photographer (b.1959) has captured both historic and contemporary structures, reducing them to their simplest forms. A practitioner of analogue photography, her work focuses on light and shadow; gloomy doorways, shafts of light pouring through stairwells, the texture of ancient walls.

Completing her art training in Rome, Binet spent her 20s in the company of experimental architects, including longtime collaborator Peter Zumthor, which exposed her to the work of the modernists and postmodernists.

Few of the buildings will be familiar to the average visitor, which renders the show all the more captivating. Rather than overload the walls – which are lacquered black –  with captions, curator Vicky Richardson saves the information for the pamphlet, allowing the photographs to speak for themselves. Evocative quotations drawn from Goethe and John Cage pepper the walls instead, providing a clever crossover of artforms. 

Operating within the limitations imposed by photography, Binet has reduced architecture to its essence. Itself deeply restrained, the exhibition shows the versatility of Binet’s work, and makes for a calming meditation on the structures we take for granted.

Light Lines: The Architectural Photographs of Helene Binet will be showing until 23 January 2022.

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