With the Capture Photography Festival happening in Vancouver, I am trying to cram in as many exhibitions that I can over my weekends. The Wayward exhibition contains works of nine contemporary artists based in Canada and Los Angeles, namely Brody Albert, Dana Claxton, Alexis Dirks, Jason Gowans, Maggie Groat, Lili Huston-Herterich, Laurie Kang, Colin Smith and Ed Spence.
The festival catalogue describes them as artists “who trouble our presumptions about “fixedness” of the photograph”. Claxton and Spence “unsettle the surface of the image through pixelation, but through analog processes”. Kang “exposes and tears light-sensitive paper to create collaged photograms that respond willfully to their environment”. Gowans “uses infrared film to manifest a “drift” in both time and collective memory” and Albert “in a three-channel video, offers a fugitive, almost imperceptible mediation on the very basis of photo-graphé or “drawing with light”. Other artists transform rooms into pinhole cameras (Colin Smith). In the case of Alexis Dirks “patterns mimicking those found in the natural world are digitally printed on billboard paper and silk crepe de chine, then run up walls and unfurled across the floor.
There was a lot in the exhibition that I found quite puzzling. The accompanying wall text along side the pieces proved to be rather scant only imparting the artists names together the piece’s name or number. Not much information was available about each artists work. I will only briefly touch on a few of the artists.
Brody Albert’s work consisted of two projectors on the floor projecting a faint image from an apartment, which quite frankly were almost illegible as they were mainly in the corner on the floor of the gallery. The projectors made more of a statement than the actual image itself. There is a similar project on his website which can be seen here.
Alexis Dirk’s work was a little more interesting, but almost seemed to go beyond photography. I wasn’t too sure what to make of it. The one piece looked like a painter’s dropcloth scrunched up slightly and spread out across the gallery floor and which had a big hole in it. It reminded me a bit of wallpaper. See image above. More of her work is featured on her blog.
Maggie Groat’s piece can be seen here. The first image on her website is the same as the piece in the exhibition. It featured an array of images, printed on paper, I think and then glued onto hand cut cardboard squares and rectangles and arranged on three shelves. Pretty, nice analogous colour palettes flowing from one hue into the next on the colour wheel, ending with the neutral shades on the lowest shelf. I remember thinking to myself that it was cute. Probably not the best way to describe photography, but that was my first reaction.
I think by far the most interest pieces were by Ed Spence. Ed takes a portion of his image and pixelates it. He painstakingly creates the pixel by hand, cutting them out and gluing them back into place. It must take him forever to create an image because the size of the pixels are probably in the region of a half centimetre square. The result is a rather mysterious, yet familiar image. Familiar because one is reminded of the occasions when the TV sudden goes on the blink with an electrical interference and huge pixels obscure the images on the screen, or the zooming in when working in Photoshop to the point where one has zoomed in too much. Mysterious because one wants to unravel the mystery of what lies behind the pixelated portion of the image. So instead of looking away as one does when one has zoomed in too much in Photoshop, one goes closer to inspect the individual pixels and to see the details. Seeing the work close up and seeing the minute detail of the pixels is really quite fascinating.
I do have to say that, during this photography festival, I am being exposed to a whole variety of photography that I never knew existed before. One of the artists, Lili Huston-Herterich, pastes prints onto bits of broken ceramic surfaces and hangs these fragments as a collage, her aim being to bring back the utilitarian aspect into art, which I found rather interesting. Next time I break some crockery I shall have to experiment.
“Wayward”. Capture Photography Festival Catalogue, p 52: Mitchell Press, Vancouver.
Albert, Brody [online] 10:59 AM. Available from: http://brodyalbert.com/work/1059am/ [Accessed 6 April, 2015]
Dirks, Alexis [online] Available from: http://alexisdirks.blogspot.ca/ [Accessed 6 April, 2015]
Groat, Maggie [online] Available from: http://www.maggiegroat.com/ [Accessed 6 April, 2015]
Huston-Herterich, Lili [online] Available from: http://www.lilihustonherterich.com/ [Accessed 6 April, 2015]
Spence, Ed [online] Available from: http://edspence.tumblr.com/ [Accessed 6 April, 2015]