WCPF 21 installation award

Grounding (2021)

The installation is called GROUNDING (2021)It is made up of 12 large scale photo etchings, ground rock pigment, two C-type photographic prints, articulated and supported on wooden stilts

This installation piece brings together a series of image-objects that challenge our fragmented relationship to the landscape, using handmade photographic pieces and printmaking techniques to do so. In this way Victoria explores the tactile nature of these processes and  brings elements of the landscape into the space of the gallery- inks are imbued with ground minerals from the places they allude to as the photographic plates are exposed and developed in situ, and in the studio. 

‘Grounding’ (2021) is an imagined response to the Anthropocene and our relationship with natural formations that exceed our ability to comprehend space and time. They are fragmented and etched images of deep time geological formations, caves, coastal rock formations and mountains both on the South West coast of the UK and in the Altiplano in the Andes in South America, where Victoria grew up. Both places were in part formed 145 million years ago, during the Jurassic period: one into a mountain range, the other into an eroding coast line- yet both denote boundaries, liminal spaces at the margins of maps, where, by exposing ‘deep time’, archaeologists, paleontologists and geologists uncover the earth’s history. Victoria spent the last few years travelling to these precarious places, creating prints and collecting photographic images and mineral pigments, to use in this installation. The images allude to the peaks and troughs of the disappearing and changing landscapes and depict the process of using the minerals collected there: the iron ore,  red mudstone, chalk, shale, and the dark blacks of the inking up process, as a tool to print and frottage the surface of the image. They play with notions of the impossibility of taking in the sublime view- the way we remember or encounter these spaces in smaller fragments, often through a screen. Much like our memories, they stimulate stories, narratives and myths over time. Victoria feels a responsibility to expose these narratives and to maintain an intimate relationship to nature, one that does not contribute to our ecological demise, but finds alternative and sustainable non toxic print methods to create images of landscapes that are in the process of erosion. This installation then becomes a memorial and witness to our estrangement from nature and a material reminder of where we come from. The mineral powders leave marks on her hands, just as the marks on her fingers are left on the surface of the prints, leaving a forensic trace of her encounter with these spaces of deep time. It is a recognition of the transient, the fragmented- giving nature itself agency and the voice to visualize the layers of history it preserves in its microscopic wake.

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By victoriaahrens

My work is concerned with auratic translations, interpretation and fiction in our encounters with the landscape. I use photographic installations, projections and print editions to explore notions of the politics of place, resistance and ruin. I am interested in the spaces between what we know and what we think we know about the world, and have investigated these ideas in a series of installations and prints over the last few years.