Sinje Dillenkofer
Archives Vivantes


Ingeborg Domes, Museum bei der Kaiserpfalz, Ingelheim am Rhein


Johannes Meinhardt, Peter Weibel


Philippa Walz


21,5 x 31 cm


Swiss open spine gatefold brochure


106 (and 40 pages text brochure)




German, English, French



Sinje Dillenkofer’s (b. Neustadt a.d.W., 1959) body of work ARCHIVES VIVANTES inquires into the idea of the “archive,” harnessing the means of visual art to allow us to see and perceive what the archive does not reveal. With staged photographs that combine conceptual rigor with a wide spectrum of creative techniques and devices, Dillenkofer’s pictorial essay turns the spotlight on specimens, artifacts, graphic art, and writings compiled by the explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) and the ornithologist Carlo von Erlanger (1872–1904). Examining the archive as a model of nature and reality as well as a mirror of “human nature,” the artist develops compositional ideas inspired by the peculiar features of the objects in the collections in visual analogies, pictorial spaces, and spatial compositions. Animals and plants that died long ago “in the service of science” are vividly embodied through the distinctive use of light and shadow. The resulting pictures consider the archive in a new context, framed by our complex relationships with nature, humankind, society and its values and ideals, circumstances and constellations of power. The pictures were taken in six German collection archives: at the Museum bei der Kaiserpfalz Ingelheim, the Naturhistorisches Museum Mainz, the Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum Frankfurt, the Stadtmuseum Berlin, and the Stuttgart State Museum of Natural History. Dillenkofer was the first artist to be invited by the Berlin State Library—Prussian Cultural Heritage to translate Humboldt’s American travel diaries into art.

Sinje Dillenkofer studied at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design and has taught at universities and art academies. Her work is held by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, and the Berlinische Galerie, among others.

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