Saturday, 2 November 2013

Perspectives on Collage Laura Letinsky et al at The Photographers Gallery

Do I have to keep playing Mum? I guess I do, this one may be brief, I thought some of the others would be but once I get going I like to have my say. Added to the work of Broomberg and Chanarin and John Stezaker I can see how all these fit in together in how various bodies of work are being made and moving forward. The Photographers’ Gallery certainly threw down the gauntlet when it decided to curate these three exhibitions to the medium: Perspectives on Collage and Laura Letinsky – Ill Form and Void Full, Geraldo de Barros – What Remains.While Perspectives in Collage is a group show, Laura Letinsky and Brazilian Geraldo de Barros’ work stood on their own.

Perspectives on collage

(side note I can't believe this stupid web page dictionary does not recognise the word collage?)

This was a group show featuring 8 differing approaches to photo collage to "broaden ideas around the practice into areas including sculpture and installation." Promising myself to not write too much I won't go into great detail, some I didn't like, some I did but as ever the premise of coming to an exhibition isn't to "like" everything you look at but to see if you can learn different ways to present your work or tell a narrative.

Work was on display from:

Jan Svoboda, Peggy Franck, Nicole Wermers (seen previously at Saatchi Out of Focus) Batia Suter,  Anna Parkina, C K Rajan, Roy Arden and Clunie Reid.

Very briefly and with thanks to the Photographers Gallery exhibition booklet for the words to paraphrase or just nick... :-

Jan Svoboda used torn up and folded remnants of his own work in simple arrangements. - I couldn't work out what message if anything he was trying to send?

Peggy Franck creates assemblages from everyday materials in her studio - interesting to look at but what is the underlying message? Is there one?

Nicole Wermers borrows motifs from the world of design, fashion advertising and architecture magazines and makes abstractions. I enjoyed these, liked her work previously. I can see how the ideas of seduction in advertising play out in her visually seductive pieces.

Batia Suter used a diverse selection of books in her floor piece Wave to "suggest poetic connections within encyclopaedic knowledge." Ok if you say so? Looks like a tidier version of my floor when doing research for my essays.....

Anna Parkina works in sculpture,painting,photography and performance. Apparently the Russian avant-garde echoes through her work. I can read into these how Russian society is altering, old statues and snippets of propaganda are there, society is as fragmented as her pieces. That may be her message it may not be, but at least I could read something into them and more effort had gone into creating it rather than  oh lets say, skimming thru a lot of books to find images of boats then plopping them on the floor?

C K Rajan overlays two contrasting newspaper or magazine images, surreal works responding..."tangentially to...economic and cultural contradictions." One of my favourites I think, images cleverly put together showing the contrasts of old and new, poverty and big business and the juxtaposition they have in developing countries.

Roy Arden works across media including painting, sculpture, photography and video. I wasn't quite sure with his, think I need to research more. Very bright, very busy, image below is Rich Tapestry of Life and I get that, but still not convinced.....

Clunie Reid used marker pen, slickers holographic paper and sticky tape, borrowed from advertising, the internet and the internet to "throw our image worlds into sharp critical light." Messy, childlike scribbles, too pink for my taste, random and jumbled but I guess that may be the message about what our visual world today  is? Overloaded, messy, poor quality with no coherence?

The exhibition aimed to "highlight the enduring relevance of collage across a range of creative practice" in that I think it was really successful. Am laughing to myself because at the time when walking around I was scratching my head for a lot of it thinking the usual "why is it here, what am I looking at, that is rubbish" but when you have the time to reflect, think about what the images are saying more than the image itself then you understand them more. A kind of light bulb moment, this is where I need to tie in what I am trying to achieve with what I do achieve. Sometimes its more about the message, the image does not need to be technically brilliant, although that would be nice as long as the message gets across you've done what you set out to do. Also successful as it starts to spark ideas of how you can present your own photography.

Laura Letinsky – Ill Form and Void Full

The first thing to comment upon is how this exhibit was curated, with Letinsky deliberately choosing not to place her work under glass. Quite ironic because of her statement below :

"Everything gets spoiled. Nothing remains pure, unsullied. The whites are always sullied, they're wrinkled, they’re stained, there’s marks on the wall, or else they're blindingly white so you almost can't look at them and you can't see anything in them. The white is sort of this play on our expectations or desire for perfection and the impossibility of that."

There was debate over one image that had dirty splats on, was it part of the image? A lot argued it was, however I asked one of the members of staff who told me nope, a visitor had splashed his drink and they were now being more conscious of telling the audience to step back, not get so close and don't touch anyone wondering I've cleared that mystery up.

A really interesting video is here which makes so much sense, and isn't full of a photographer giving lots of what I term psychobabble, about why something was made or a deeper meaning behind an image. Robert Enoch was our tutor that day and he was full of enthusiasm for this work which made sure I looked at it deeply and didn't just dismiss it out of hand.

When I started to think about my critical essay these 3 exhibitions were in the back of my mind although none of the artists got mentioned in the end but the thought processing were there over is photography made or taken.

My initial response when looking at her work was to wonder how it was created, what shadows were real, what were part of the cut out. I noted that she likes working with natural light, so do I but in this country and with my rooms it isn't always easy or possible :o/ Then I started to try and "read" what was going on within the work. Without going into this too much, I could write reams, about the inclusion of tape, her exquisite sense of colour etc I found her work really interesting,  complex with a lot of underlying messages, the video and interview links will go into the detail I don't have time to comment on here. Well worth seeing.

 Geraldo de Barros – What Remains

A key figure in Brazilian art and design he at first experimented with multiple exposures, rotations, over-painting and scratching negatives. He put photography aside and revisited the medium late in life after having a series of strokes. In the last 2 years of his life he made Sobras - Remains. Over 250 collages which incorporated some of his Fotoformas series.The exhibition traced subtle connections across the two series. (blurb re-hashed from the exhibition leaflet)

To be honest I don't remember much about his work, but we had taken in two exhibitions this day (Light from the Middle East) and saw so much it doesn't surprise me. Googling his work I found quite a bit to enjoy and it showed another way of producing and using your work, changing direction out of necessity etc.

As I don't remember his work I don't feel qualified to review it from images online or just re-quoting secondhand information I'll paste a few links that sum his work up for those who want to know more.

All in all a good day out and with lots to think about and possibly experiment with incorporating into my own work at some stage. Thanks once again to the OCA for organising these visits which are always worthwhile!

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