By: Beccy Poole
November 13, 2015
The current display at Four Corners Gallery is the culmination of work by five artists: Marianne Bjornmyr, Maria Kapajeva, Jo Lawrence, Georgia Metaxas and Elisa Noguera Lopez. All were selected to take part in Fathom 2015, a residency in its second funding round, granted via Arts Council England with additional support from the European Regional Development Fund for this final exhibition. The driving force behind the programme is to provide London based film makers and photographers with an opportunity to explore their ideas in an open, practice-based, experimental manner.
The exhibition space itself is fairly modest and fitting all five artists in was clearly a curatorial challenge. I was lucky enough to have a long conversation with Dave Than, Exhibitions and Project Manager, who treated me to a fascinating account of the history and cultural significance of the space which houses (amongst other things): around twenty artists’ studios, a fully functioning photographic studio, the London base for photographer Steven Gill (arguably the photographer of London’s east end) and a fully functioning colour and black & white darkroom. The darkroom itself is shared with the photographic printing service Labyrinth who have just been awarded the Lucie Foundation’s Best Darkroom award – so a massive congratulations to them! Hopefully I am beginning to paint an accurate picture of just how important the work that goes on inside the Four Corners building, which is currently celebrating it’s 40th year, really is.
What became most apparent from my conversation with Dave is the care and support each of the artists in residence receives as a part of the programme, with such a wealth of knowledge and resources available it’s not surprising that there is such diversity in the works on display. At one side of the gallery you have the quietly confident work of Georgia Metaxas who has created bust-portraits of invigilators across London in a classical style, a great homage to those who work in the galleries we visit and endure the painful task of sitting in the same place for hours on end. Then, at the other end of the gallery, you have the work of Jo Lawrence who happened upon Angeles Duran, a Spanish activist who found a loophole in the legality of constellation ownership and claimed the Sun at the centre of our solar system as her own.
Her animation tells Duran’s story in a playful style and is the result of many conversations that took place between the two women. Sandwiched between these are offerings from Marianne Bjornmyr, Maria Kapajeva and Elisa Noguera Lopez. Bjornmyr’s beautiful black and white photograms were created by scattering actual meteor dust across the surface of the paper whilst, opposite the Dogs and Chairs in Lopez’s films and found images explore the notion of animism – the belief that natural phenomena possess souls. Finally, Kapajeva shows a sensitive and tense collection of previously undeveloped photos the artist found that had previously belonged to her Father. These are paired with equally delicate excerpts from the novel ‘If on a winter’s night a traveller’ by Italo Calvino. All of the works require a dedicated amount of time to really get the most out of them – I would highly recommend purchasing the exhibition catalogue to gain and even great understanding of the artists’ background and intentions.
To any budding photographers based in London, do make sure that you keep an eye on the Four Corners website for future photographic residencies as this programme is potentially one of the most exiting in the capital.
Fathom 2015 will run unitl 23rd January 2016 .
November 7, 2015
The first part of an ongoing exhibition which will see contributions from artists, philosophers and neuroscientists, is Ann Veronica Janssens’ sublime vapour filled room. The title yellowbluepink describes the spectrum of colours beautifully limiting the perceptions of those entering. At first, this feels slightly unnerving, the colour leaves you blind to the world in front of you and those entering the space can be seen with arms tentatively outstretched, nervously trying to avoid the other bodies that they can hear but not yet see.
Once the initial sensory shock has abated, you are able to travel seamlessly through the hues of the space, and of course the setting is incredible for taking a never ending amount of yellow, pink and blue tinted selfies.
As well as the colours interrupting and dominating the typical conscious experience, the people sharing the space ebb and flow from each others visibility. It is entirely possible that my experience of the space was directly affected by the fact that I seemed to be the only person in there alone, but the blanket of vapour clouding my vision had a definite feeling of alienation. There was what felt like an obstacle of colour between me and everyone else, realised through my perception of my immediate surroundings. I was aware of not only how this installation was affecting my visible world, but after a while, I began to analyse my entire position within the world at large.
The installation is running until January 3rd and full details of the installation can be found here.
It’s probably necessary to let you in on my state of being before describing my reaction to the current display at The Photographers Gallery in London. Prior to my visit, I had donated my tenth pint of blood, my deca-donation if you like. This is no mean feat when you’ve spent most of your life putting a blanket ban on films that contain gore and violence and feeling faint at the mere mention of blood. On this occasion I had decided that it was finally time to look at the needle and blood bag. Unsurprisingly, this left me cold, clammy and white as a sheet with the nurses huddled around me trying to keep me from fainting. I’m sure you can then imagine my wobbly disposition when entering the The Photographers gallery shortly after.
Noémie Goudal’s top floor presence contains a collage of realities. The vast photographs, hung low to fill ones gaze, are inspired by the ‘human fascination with the sky.’ Goudal presents landscapes, interrupted by printed digital imagery, each photo contains another photo, and the execution is such that at first the placement of one image inside the other appears seamless. Upon closer inspection, the construction of the images becomes much more obvious. Goudal positions the somewhat crudely cut out photographs in front of the lens, creating a simple extra layer on top of the background landscape. She allows you to see how the image has been constructed by including the brackets and wires holding it in place, making allusions to a theatre-like stage where the intention isn’t to fein realism but to evoke a willingness to understand a new idea or narrative. Her influences described in the accompanying text are communicated in simple visual language and avoid the art world faux pas of merely illustrating a concept. This floor is an absolute treat.
Walking down to the subsequent level, my mood had been settled. Goudal’s works have a subtle, therapeutic effect and allowed my somewhat giddy mood to mellow. This next floor contained what I later found out to be the second part of Burden of Proof, an exhibition demonstrating the historical lineage of the introduction of photography and moving image into criminal investigations.
The exhibition is extensive so I’m just going to pick out a few pieces that struck chords with me. The first piece I came across was a film demonstrating how video footage can be analysed to understand, in impressive detail, the impact of a drone attack. In the case shown, forensics rely on footage filmed by a citizen in a neighbouring building to determine where the building was situated, where the drone came from and whether there were fatalities. The process is disturbingly fascinating.
Richard Helmers ‘face-skull superimpositions’, on the same floor, were realised by placing stock footage of Josef Mengele’s face over the top of images of a skeleton found in the suburbs of São Paulo. This process allowed the researchers to determine that the skeleton in question was in fact Mengele – the ‘executioner of Auschwitz.’ The images themselves reveal a disturbing dichotomy between life and death – ‘face wrapped over skull, subject over object, an image of life over an image of death.’
The star piece of the show is a short documentary film that describes the first moment moving image was used in a court room and the case in hand happened to be one of the infamous Nuremberg trials. The narrator details the build up and context of the case and demonstrates how the courtroom underwent a structural make-over in order to display the film. It then moves on to show parts of the moving image used in the trial. The footage is nothing short of harrowing and unlike most gallery housed films, where the viewers come and go, no one left the room until the credits ran. I felt glued to my seat. It is one thing to see still images from the second world war, it is quite another to see the victims of this regime walking around like living skeletons with the guards standing in stark contrast next to them.
The atrocities displayed in this exhibition feel as though they should belong in some well crafted dystopian timeline, not one that represents the true historical lineage of the relationship between image and criminal behaviour. I would highly recommend visiting, but please do so with all the blood in your body.