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Review of Field/s

Field/s ONE is the first group exhibition of a forum of twelve artists, which opened to the public on Thursday 8th November, at SluiceHQ, in East London. The new works on show have been developed in the past year as part of an Artquest funded peer forum hosted by The Photographers’ Gallery. Field/s founder and coordinator Thom Bridge, curated the the show presenting the diverse approached of the artists to photography, video, performance and installation.

The first piece to encounter is by Martin Seeds, whose practice is shaped by his relationship with his Northern Irish homeland which he left in 1986. Speaking to Seeds on the opening, he shared that his practice is mainly about conflict of identity, culture and politics in Northern Ireland. The on-going series Masks, has been created in response to the escalating threat of terrorist activity as a result of recent political uncertainties in Seeds’ homeland. Exposing light-sensitive paper with an iPad showing internet sourced images of balaclavas, results in soft, yet haunting images alluding to the troubles of the past and potential future conflict. An extension to the project are recent collages of contact prints made with an iPhone, playing with a range of tones, layers and the relationship between each balaclava.

Visitors are then faced with Thom Bridge’s large hybrid analogue and digital silver gelatine print, produced in collaboration with Metro Imaging and Andrew Bruce. In his practice, Bridge is interested in exploring the processes and materiality of photography through printmaking, sculpture and installation. Developed in the past year, Tabletop Exercises is a process-based work, manipulating the ways in which analogue and digital methods render the surface and imprint objects. Bridge adopts aesthetic photographic exercises of the Bauhaus vorkus to produce unique prints by arranging objects on a 127 x 175 cm light sensitive paper in complete darkness, before exposing it with a powerful flashlight. This physical process results in a unique print of numerous 2d and 3d sources.

 

Another of the exhibitors, Emma Backlund is a multi-disciplinary artist working with photography, performance, sculpture and writing to explore the body and consequences of its environment. Exploring the idea of tension within still movement, in her piece To Place with Care, Backlund re-stages old photographs of nurses training how to lift patients. The repetitive gestures in absence of the patient become a choreography of habit and muscle memory. A row of metal headrests stick out of the brick wall at a head height, part of Every Pulsation Causes an Imperceptible Motion. This piece was developed in response to the metal headrests used in old photography to arrest the sitters movements during long exposure times.

Opposite is Maria Kapajeva’s Fragments of a conversation, a single screen, 6:45 minute video piece made from an hour and a half long conversation with her mother. The viewer becomes a witness to the moments of silence during the conversation, through the poignant moving image portrait of Kapajeva’s mother, along with the sound of the room. Kapajeva’s photographic work has developed into installation, digital collage and textiles, challenging old traditions in relation to women’s identity.

A section of the gallery floor is occupied by a screen facing up, showing Multiverse, Julie Hill’s looped 3d animation using photogrammetry. The object on the screen is a handmade sculptural response referencing the evolution of the universe. Above this, hanging from the ceiling is Accretion, 3d prints in polished nickel steel, made using models of asteroids obtained by radar astronomy sourced from NASA. The location of this work will change four times during the course of the exhibition. Produced as a result of experiments with 3d modelling the two pieces become an extension to Hill’s interest in imagining and visualising of cosmic matter.

Monika Takvan’s practice explores human relationship to nature using photography, moving image, sound, illustration and flower arrangement. The Way of Flowers questions rules of Ikebana and the language of photography to challenge beauty and harmony in composition. An 8 minute film, Arrangements, made in Japan, referencing the movement of people within nature, along with an inkjet print Composition and an Ikebana flower arrangement are on show at SluiceHQ.

Cavus is Andrew Bruce’s 2.18 metre tall C-type print created using Phase One camera for optimum depth of field to achieve focus from the lips to the back of the throat. Bruce is known to photograph body parts and is interested in the open mouth in a position between the internal and external, the self and the other. This extreme enlargement of a mouth, encourages a bodily response from the viewer since it is large enough that one might enter into it.

Ryan L Moule’s Ancestral Sleepers consists of three silver gelatine prints depicting the human form in the moment of sleep or rest. Using images from an inherited archive, the work questions how we experience photographs from another time. Moule’s practice explores areas of research surrounding memory, history and the withdrawal of subject from photographic representation. Moule questions whether these traces represent what is left behind from the past or if they are a rupture in our contemporary experience of time.

On the floor is a 2:56 minute video piece of a monologue Doings Are Growing into My Body. Anja Olofgors draws on theory in the fields of architecture, feminism, literature and design to record a text-based video, synchronised to the spoken word. The work’s initiation-point can be understood as a simple question: Who does the constructed world cater to?

Kim Jakobsen To is exhibiting digital c-type prints from the series Caer Luel Stories, focusing on the private world of rural home schooling. To is exploring modern day communities and the representation of people not often ‘photographed professionally’. In Caer Luel Stories a group of children were invited to look for objects/rubbish around their homes to make masks with in a workshop. Working with ideas of representation, To was interested in how home educated children relate to perceived identity of the self outside of their home.

Meteorite, found 01.10.17 and Meteorite, found 21.03.18 combine c-type photographs, meteorites and witness statements to investigate astronomical phenomena. Produced as part of Helen McGhie’s PhD, photographic methods of storytelling are applied through imaginative experiences of dark skies to visualise a narrative about gender disparities in science. McGhie is interested in exploring the cultural connectedness of astronomy and photography to visualise female experiences of cosmic darkness.

The twelfth artist, Laura Hensser founded iheartwomen as a result of being a member of the peer forum. Hensser’s platform is dedicated to championing the work of women through interviews and conversations. Her contribution to Field/s ONE is going to be an interview with photography, moving image and installation artist Natasha Caruana, part of the free public programme on Wednesday 14th Nov, 6:30pm.

Three of the artists and curators who joined the peer forum over the year will come together for a panel discussion: From Photography. Emma Lewis, Tom Lovelace, Sarah Pickering and the founder Thom Bridge will discuss photography’s relationship with other mediums and the importance of networked communities and artist-led initiatives. The event is free and will take place on Thursday, 15th Nov, 7pm at SluiceHQ, E9 6JY.

The exhibition is open until 18th November, Wednesday to Sunday, 12 – 5pm, or by appointment.

Written by: Lina Ivanova