ANDY HELLER | 86497 / CA 94103

Opening: Friday, 30 May 2014, 7 p.m.

Exhibition: 31 May - 28 June 2014

86497 / CA 94103 – a note on Andy Heller


Abandoned shopping bags, a suitcase chained to a traffic sign, folded blankets on the sidewalk. Andy Heller observes urban space as a mobile sculpture. The objects she photographs are as unspectacular as their surroundings and the situations in which the photographer meets them. What she captures with the camera are traces of invisible presence and the movement of those effecting it – of people who would have been here just a little while earlier. In Heller’s photography the inconspicuous becomes obvious, the ordinary mysterious.


For her work CA 94103 the photographer in 2011 investigated for several weeks an area within the corresponding ZIP code zone of San Francisco. The neighborhood below a freeway junction prominently located within the respective district formed the center of her observations. An area removed from any attractions, marked by makeshift structures and an atmosphere of desolation, a strange anywhere that seems to warrant no visit whatsoever. Yet it is exactly what makes it so worthwhile for the photographer. Here she spent several weeks with her camera to record, to bring to light as intense photography easily overlooked objects not always clearly classifiable as either trash or useful. In a lived-in habitat far away from anything upscale. (Andy Heller)


On her photographic expeditions Andy Heller searches for the universal in things specific. The worlds within the world are what she traces. In the case of CA 94103 these are people of no fixed abode not visible in the photographs as such, yet whose belongings become visible through the photographer’s eye as an instrument of a personal field survey. It is the private in the public which informs on the nature and individuality of places, movements, and situations. The objects therein move as anonymously as traffic in the streets and ever re-structure the static framework of urban architecture, seemingly secretly yet before everybody’s eyes due to the photographer’s precise regard.


The same holds true for Andy Heller’s photographic expeditions into rural areas. In the photographs of the follow-up series CA 93428 this becomes just as distinctly clear in the immediate vicinity of San Francisco’s urban topography as it does in räumen, the exposures of which were made in 2005-6 at Horgau near Augsburg. The places, social attributions or cultural contexts may be diverse, yet just as obviously parallel is the character of what is found: a situational arrangement within objects as self-affirmation. The objects found, as well as the constellations of their, each time individual, arrangement, change from one place to the other, from person to person, from society to society. The urge to configure them as a projection on one’s own self, however, appears to be a culturally overarching mode of human self-attestation, a manifestation of the “here am I”.


Andy Heller gives this observation a unique aesthetic form. Her photographic reflections capture relics of an everyday suspended between the desire for settled circumstances, and a contemporary nomadic way of life.


Thomas Elsen

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