Fear of place is the focus of this exhibition.
Ten artists - Anne Eggebert, Matze Einhoff, David Ferrando Giraut, Polly Gould, Marja Helander, Uta Kogelsberger, Abigail Reynolds, Almut Rink, Emily Speed and Louise K Wilson - respond to this intriguing subject through drawing, video, painting, photography sculpture, sound and installation.
TOPOPHOBIA is curated by Eggebert-and-Gould, and will tour to Spacex, Exeter 12 May – 7 July 2012.
Review by Stephen Clarke
‘Topophobia’ is a touring exhibition that aims to explore the fear of certain places. At each of its three venues this exhibition has changed shape. In the catalogue introduction the artist/curators Anne Eggebert and Polly Gould suggest that the restructuring of the show’s content provokes different perspectives on the artworks. The viewpoint that this review will consider is what the artworks in ‘Topophobia’ say about photography, since what is apparent in this exhibition is our reliance upon photography to visualise places.
Photography was initially thought of as ‘drawing with light’. Its inventors, Fox Talbot and Niépce, used photography as a graphic media to stand in for their own difficulties with making hand drawn images. In the main gallery Uta Kogelsberger’s photographs of American cities at night push, or restrain, photography’s ability to draw with light. The blackness of many of these prints flattens the image into a blank surface, and it is into this blankness that the viewer tries to penetrate. In contrast Abigail Reynolds cuts into the surface of found photographs. Her sculptural collages attack the photographic surface and add confusion to the places represented. Whereas Kogelsberger and Reynolds present us with actual photographic surfaces, Almut Rink presents us with digitally constructed simulations. Her wall projection pieces take us through tutorials for digital landscape imaging and in the process produce landscapes that have photographic reality but no depth or realty beyond the surface of the screen.
The dialogue between photography and drawing is addressed in the end gallery by the work of Anne Eggebert. Using photographic imagery from ‘Google Earth’ Eggebert has produced drawings that map out place. The satellite images, replicated in her pencil drawings, have given the artist access to normally unobtainable views. Photography’s ability to give us access to distant places is taken up by the work of Finnish artist Marja Helander, who photographs herself in the snowy arctic landscape of her homeland. This neatly coincides with the unpopulated images of Polly Gould’s reflected landscapes. Gould uses reflective spheres to give ocular dimension to flat watercolours that are laid on top of a tabletop surface, a method that can be linked to early attempts to produce illusionistic images that informed the optics of photography.
Three artists in this exhibition work with the moving image. David Ferrando Giraut’s camera turns 360 degrees on a fixed point to reveal a staged scene of a car crash whilst Matthias Einhoff’s camera swoops through a derelict site in Berlin providing action where there is none. In both cases we become aware of what might lie beyond the fixed frame image of a still photograph. Louise K. Wilson incorporates the element of time with her speeded up projection of the film ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ (Peter Weir, 1975). The moving images and moved frame bring us to the physical and temporal edges of the still photograph.
Photography is part of a continuum of graphic representation rather than a separated practice. Even with the performance work of Emily Speed, references to photography are evident. Speed exhibits photographs that document the box-like spaces that she inhabits and these box-like structures resemble the enclosed camera box space where light intrudes and images are made.