Takashi AraiDaguerreotypes 2020
In a world rapidly turning towards the digital in every aspect, Takashi Arai is one of the world’s few remaining photographers who choose to express their artistic vision with the daguerreotype silver plate photographic process.
This technique does not allow image duplication or photographic printing: each individual plate becomes a unique hand-crafted object and singular work of art. Affectionately dubbed ‘the magic mirror’ a well-made plate has the unique quality of implicating the viewer in the frame.
Rather than a nostalgic reproduction of an outmoded method, Arai recognises the strengths of the daguerreotype for capturing the essence of his subjects more faithfully than modern photography allows him and has turned it into a viable medium of his own. Arai's Daily D-type series retraces his profound devotion to the daguerreotype, producing one plate a day (beginning in 2011) with subjects including still lives, cityscapes, landscapes and portraits.
Interested in nuclear issues and the social, political and economic issues it raises for humanity in general and for Japanese society in particular, Arai has used the daguerreotype technique to create individual records—micro-monuments— of his encounters with survivors and places affected by the tragic nuclear catastrophe that deeply interconnects Fukushima to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
His most recent series, Multiple Monuments for 1000 Women No1-10, 2020 (exhibited Yokohama Triennale 2020) explores the traditional belief and practice of Senninbari: waistbelts embroidered by women for Japanese soldiers, notably during World War II, that were intended as good luck charms to protect their wearers. Each daguerreotype depicts a single stitch in a Senninbari, or “one-thousand-stitch”. The meticulous process of polishing each daguerreotype plate’s surface both reflects and memorializes for Arai the labour of the women who made the stitches.
Celine BodinLight of Grace series, Medusa, 2019, Cyanotype, 2020
Celine BodinLight of Grace
Through her photographs, Celine Bodin investigates the notion of gender and identity in Western culture, weighing the legacy of our art history.
Re-enacting the suggestive gesture borrowed from Old Masters to 19th Century paintings, the series Light of Grace explores representation’s conflict with ideals and beauty archetypes. The series reflects on a world of virtuality and image proliferation, in which our eye is constantly stimulated to recognise and where sight has become a dominant form of knowledge. By only suggesting identities and pictorial aesthetics, these photographs thereby test the logic of our perception and acknowledge our eye’s tendency to immediate association, relying on this principle to define shapes, types, and characters. The series explores Beauty’s intuitive quality, existing beyond the clarity and precise traits of a particular object.
Susan Derges1998 - 2020
Susan Derges1998 - 2020
‘The shadows of tree branches captured in the river prints are elemental to our understanding of water’s engagement with its environment, signalling events exterior to the frame. The role of the trees through the yearly cycle is delineated not by the transformations of their foliage but by the degree of protection and exposure they create for the flowing water…..Whirling vortices of water and the patterns of the annual and moon cycles correspond to the countless inner circles of the human being. Derges’s works are cosmic forms in miniature, displaying the ethereal forces that bind us to a universal system’. (Charlotte Cotton)
Over twenty years ago Susan Derges began her series of river prints, capturing the continuous movement of water by submerging photographic paper into rivers. Working at night, she used the light of the moon and a hand-held torch to expose images directly onto light sensitive paper. The unstable and uncertain conditions left several prints scratched by a stone or overhanging branch or the water failed to stabilise evenly. With new technology Derges has been able to revisit and rework these previously unseen prints, allowing her to digitally produce in small editions original dye transfer prints on a human scale, which eloquently suggests our inclusion.
Tom HunterInvasive Species 2020
'I started making this series of images during Lockdown. Spending this time in isolation within nature I contemplated humankind's place in Earth's ecosystems. As a species we are facing a deadly virus which grows inside the human body threatening our very existence. Invasive Species is a term given to plant and animal life which threatens indigenous or native species. In the U.K. invasive exotics have colonialised many native natural and urban habitats changing forever our world, bringing both beauty and destruction.
Gunnera Tinctoria originates from South America and is a plant that dates back 150 million years and which creates Jurassic awnings, a place to contemplate nature, survival and our place within an invasion ecology. This triffid-like plant has escaped its natural environment, has migrated, it’s a super-sized survivalist that was here a long time before man and will likely be here a long time after we're gone.
Any one species cannot occupy a majority of the ecosystem due to the presences of competitors, predators, and diseases and viruses. Invasive Species questions all species place on earth in the natural world at a time of climate change, the Anthropocene, and the Covid 19 pandemic.' (Tom Hunter)
Leila JeffreysHigh Society 2019
Leila JeffreysHigh Society
'Leila Jeffreys is best known for visceral and mysterious images of birds that explore and subvert the traditions of portraiture. Her avian subjects are photographed at human scale with a startling attention to colour, line, form and composition. For Jeffreys, birds are both medium and message. Her practice opens windows into critical questions about the shared anthropomorphism that connects humans with animals, the sense of wildness that tugs at the fringes of everyday existence and the fleeting and precious connections that bind us to the natural world.
With her recent series High Society, Leila Jeffreys returned once again to the budgerigar. But by photographing the birds in pairs and groups, she honed on the notion of the flock. For Jeffreys, the way birds create societies are a metaphor for the connections between all living things, an intricate ecosystem that understands interdependence and trust within and between species as a precondition of our survival. It’s an idea that’s growing more urgent as the world comes to terms with climate change and the destruction of critical habitats.' (Neha Kale)
In 2020, Atelier EXB published a new collection of images by Leila Jeffreys, as part of the Des oiseaux (On birds) Collection celebrating birds through the vision of different artists. A limited edition with print is also available for sale.
Sandra KantanenStill Life 2020
Sandra KantanenStill Lives
Sandra Kantanen's photographs depict a natural world in metamorphosis. In her practice photography and painting unite to continually destabilise the eye. By mastering light’s most subtle photographic qualities and blending in alternative digital processes, she creates images that perfectly balance a meticulously crafted chaos of colour, distorting, blurring and brushing.
Kantanen’s new series, Still Life, Flowers brings nature within the confines of the studio. Made with long exposure and little natural light, they evoke the explosive colours and compositions of historical Dutch and Impressionist floral paintings. By digitally painting over the image, the artist questions the informative value of the underlying photograph and by applying a colour distortion, she plays with the viewer’s perception of the image, which appears to still be forming in front of our eyes.
Edgar MartinsWhat Photography and Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase 2020
Edgar MartinsWhat Photography and Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase
What Photography and Incarceration have in Common with an Empty Vase is a multifaceted body of work developed from a collaboration with Grain Projects and HM Prison Birmingham, its inmates, their families, as well as a myriad of other local organisations and individuals.
Using the social context of incarceration as a starting point, Martins explores the philosophical concept of absence, and addresses a broader consideration of the status of the photograph when questions of visibility, ethics, aesthetics and documentation intersect. The project wilfully circumvents images whose sole purpose is to confirm the already held opinions within dominant ideology about crime and punishment: violence, drugs, criminality, race – an approach that only serves to reinforce the act of photographing and photography itself as apotropaic devices.
Composed of three distinct chapters, encompassing archive and new photography, Martins’ work shifts between image and information, between fiction and evidence, strategically deploying visual and textual details in tandem so that the viewer becomes aware of what exists outside the confines of the frame.
The images on display interrogate what we cannot see or what cannot be represented, pointing to censorship and transgression, inherent aspects to the photographic act. The work makes several references to hunting – and to the photographer as a ‘hunter of images’ - as a kind of metaphor for the intrusive and transgressive process of documentary photography.
Diana MatarTête-à-Tête 2019
Diana Matar's recent series, Tête-à-tête (2019), was made during a residency at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, where she focused on the collection of Roman portrait sculpture.
'Through the lens I saw personalities displaying unique psychologies and imperfections: individuals with scars, physical deformities, emotional complexities and vulnerabilities. I saw the man on the street corner, the woman in the shop, the boy who had left his family to cross the sea. Face to face, these ancient and animated human likenesses seemed poignant and of our time. The longer I spent with the collection, the more I found that, even though the sculptures were made of stone, they were alive and dynamic; that if one attended to them, they responded'. (Diana Matar)
Bettina von ZwehlMeditations in an Emergency 2018
Bettina von ZwehlMeditations in an Emergency
As the New-York Historical Society’s first artist-in-residence in 2018, Bettina von Zwehl created new works inspired by the Museum’s collection of American portrait miniatures—particularly the profile drawings by Benjamin Tappan (1773 – 1857)—and by newscoverage of a teen die-in staged shortly after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Von Zwehl has created seventeen portraits of New York City teenagers in the historical form of the silhouetted profile, describing them as death masks sculpted from life. The conflation forms a trenchant tribute to the victims of the school shooting on Valentine’s Day, 2018, as well as a testament to endurance and the practice of protest and teen activism.
Photo London 2020