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CRITIC'S CHOICE

REVIEW

Given that its theme is the contemporary city, and its medium is photography, a new exhibition at the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) in Rotterdam (until 7 January) sounds like an appendix to the Venice Biennale, reviewed last week (AJ 21.09.06). It's called Spectacular City: Photographing the Future and features the often large-scale work of such usual suspects as Andreas Gursky and Thomas Struth alongside less familiar names - some 30 photographers in all.

No doubt many of these images will have considerable impact, but it would be good if the show and catalogue attempted something that the biennale doesn't do - an analysis of quite what version of the contemporary city these photos tend to propagate. Certain subjects recur in one portfolio after another: gridded high-rise blocks, dramatic infrastructure, urban wastelands, and the artificial light of dusk or night that turns everything into a spectacle. Apart from lining art dealers' pockets, how useful are these photos, how illuminating, and what do they miss out on? Perhaps the NAI will have some answers ( www. nai. nl).

It's not to the UK but elsewhere in Europe that we must look for this autumn's most promising shows. At the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt until 5 November ( www. dam-online. de) there's a large retrospective devoted to Pritzker Prize-winner Gottfried Böhm - a prolific designer of churches during Germany's post-war reconstruction period, and of many public buildings after that. His Expressionist church at Neviges, with its crystalline concrete forms (pictured), is perhaps the highlight. Jovis has published an excellent catalogue (49.80 euros), with photos of Böhm's buildings in original and current states, many of his drawings, and some substantial essays. The one by Manfred Speidel, discussing the evolution of Böhm's churches and restoration issues, would interest anybody concerned with '50s and '60s buildings.

Meanwhile, at the Vitra Design Museum near Basel, Jean Prouvé: The Poetics of the Technical Object continues until 28 January 2007. Along with Vitra's usual emphasis on furniture, it includes a reconstructed Maison de Sinistrés - Prouvé's inuential 1945 experiment in prefabrication.

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