Naipi and Taroba (2013)

waterfallphoto1Naipi and Taroba (2013), looped projection onto handmade book cover

In this piece, part of The Day Remains_ii at the Peltz Room Gallery at Birkbeck School of Art (43 Gordon Square, WC1H) I am continuing to work with liminal spaces. The projection of the waterfalls moves in reverse, metaphorically taking the water back to its source. The images refer to the Iguazu basin and part of the waterfalls that create the frontier between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Some of these have disappeared over time, the Guaira Falls- which were destroyed as part of the Itaipu dam project which now provides most of the hydroelectricity for Paraguay and the south of Brazil. The footage comes from a 16 mil. film strip I found that my grandfather had taken of these waterfalls- most of the footage was in a relatively poor state, yet I was able to extract parts of it and edit them into this imagined narrative. They live on in the memory of those who witnessed them, in a fragmented state, and no longer exist as portrayed. Projecting the piece onto a hand made book cover alters the way it is read- the book cover becomes a small screen and the silent backward movement of the water becomes a device to question our ambiguous relationship with the footage and create a new narrative of the waterfall as a lost space, as a regenerative and nostalgic memory of this place, but also as a place that lives on through its visual representation. The title refers to the Guaraní legend of the origins of the Iguazu waterfalls and the parana river: An important serpent god fell in love with a beautiful Guaraní girl called Naipi and wanted to marry her. She, however, had fallen in love with a strong warrior called Taroba, and decided to elope with him to escape her fate. The god punished her by sending the Serpent king to break up the land on which they travelled, turning the area into cascading, flooding waters. Naipi and Taroba both perished in the waterfalls, with Naipi becoming the water and Taroba a tree. When a rainbow forms the two are reunited. Next to the projection I have placed a found photograph dating back to the 1920s showing two faces bobbing out of the water with a big splash next to them. The face in the foreground is my grandfather, according to a hand written message on the back. He was a keen photographer and was interested in capturing these decisive moments (Cartier Bresson) as an early traveller to the area- the two faces, on first view appearing as rocks in the water, take on the personas of Naipi and Taroba, yet are displaced in time:

dickwater1‘That’s me in the foreground’ (1923), Found photograph, Henry Richard Ahrens

 

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Casper’s Forests

forestmade3These are test pieces following on from an earlier project I have been working on about the Alkali Act of 1863. I am interested in the layering that occurs with a collage of acetone transfers on Japanese papers and the sense of depth they create- these images while referring to a forest, symbolic of the sublime in the 18th century (Casper David Friedrich), here represent a dying or disappearing canopy of trees and denotes mankind’s ambiguous relationship with nature and the traces of the human that continue to shape our landscapes.

IMG_2527This piece has been selected for the London Group Centenary Show, together with a show reel of 6 other pieces. The show will take place from the 28th May 2013 for two weeks.

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Arkadia

mountainprinted1This piece was chosen for the Celeste Art Prize for photography: Lapsus. I was chosen as the first prize winner. The exhibition takes place in Florence at Fondazione Studio Marangoni’s gallery space from 16th May- 15th June 2013.

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Kyoto exhibition October 2012

My work was selected for an exhibition at the Kyoto Seika’s Gallery Fleur, Japan for an exhibition of emerging contemporary printmakers:

kyotoshow

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The Day Remains at 23 Grafton Street, W1

A solo curating project, organized by Chelly Saenz and sponsored by Partner Capital at 23 Grafton Street. The beautiful Georgian front room is transformed into a gallery space for this exhibition of 11 artists’ work.

The Day Remains refers to an inversion of the title of the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day, 1989), in which he uses the structural devices of memory and perspective to interweave past and present in the subtle nuances of unspoken relationships. Here, the vestiges of memory or the traces of the ordinary are subtly turned on their head as their quiet marks belie their extraordinariness. The traces left behind by an abstract memory, a physical shadow of the reflection of objects in the dark, the vestige of a photograph or the imprint of a long forgotten place emerge in the work on show and create understated connections.  This exhibition traces each artist’s individual treatment of the theme, in order to present a provocative and challenging visual exploration of the notion of what remains of our fragmentary remembrances of the everyday.

VICTORIAMOONDAYREMAINS2 430682_10151367207369050_652704769_n-1 VICTORIADAYREMAINS10 ALTEADAYREMAINS1 ALTEADAYREMAINS1

 

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My work in DIS/ PLAY 1

Working through ideas of sliding screens, landscapes that alter with display and positioning, I have created a series of hand made book covers with silkscreen colour field prints and photographic transfer collages. The bleached out colours slide in front of the photographic images, variously obscuring them and allowing the viewer only a fragment of the whole:

Lacuna3

 

These continue a dialogue with disappearing spaces, and further explores the notion of the impermanence. It can also bit put together as a book

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DIS/PLAY

An exhibition of Printmaking and Book Arts at Camberwell College, 3rd Floor Studios-

The first of a three part series called DIS/PLAY including a participatory review with all artists and a chance to present a new piece of work

critDISPLAY

 

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projections into the night

 

Testing out projections of the clouds film in the night onto different surfaces- part of a new project bringing sublime moments to urban settings- in an ongoing collaboration with Giuseppina Esposito as part of Hung, Drawn and Altered curatorial series- Hung, Drawn and Altered, for baylorsanddiamond. Here the inexorable changing of the sky is projected onto a brick wall in Peckham and open doorway, allowing the viewer to discover or happen upon a small moment of wonder.

 

projection2

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How deep is your love

IMG_0049Using sugar lift techniques on steel plates, printed onto Japanese paper and mounted on hand made book covers, the liquid outlines of the ‘drawing’ or painting are repeated in different configurations. These are paired back from images of lakes (lacuna 1/2) and become small worlds in their own right- fragmented, small pools are filled in with indian ink, turning their topographical surfaces into patterned craters.

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Longinus and the Sublime

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2000/aug/19/scienceandnature

Great article on the contemporary sublime.

I have been looking at the origins of the sublime, Longinus and his rhetorical sublime. First known proponent of a treatise on the sublime, Peri Tou Hupsou, dating back to 1st century A.D, (although neither author nor the date of writing is considered a historical certainty), discusses oratory techniques, referring to the sublime as the “unforgettable, irresistible and most importantly (…) thought provoking” (Lyotard, 1984: 36) figure of speech, which sensationally interrupts or disrupts the discourse. In Nicolas Boileau- Despreaux’s  translation of the treatise (1674), Longinus “announces that to attain the sublime effect ‘there is no better figure of speech than one which is completely hidden’ (…) it sometimes even takes the form of outright silence” (Lyotard, 1984: 37). We know in our own linguistic paraphrasing that ‘silence speaks volumes’. It is in the silent realm, therefore, that our perception of the sublime can be found and we can ‘hear the sound of our own voice’ in an interior mapping of our fears and their consequences:

Silence indicates inevitable gaps in our comprehension, gaps that should be respected, rather than bridged (…) the sublime is a name for one kind of gap. Auschwitz indicates another of these gaps. Both the sublime and Auschwitz form unspeakable points of discourse, disruptions in the course of our sentence, that should be respected as such (Renne Van de Vall, ‘Silent Visions- Lyotard on the Sublime’, The Contemporary Sublime, Sensibilities of Transcendence and Shock, Art and Design, Volume 10, no.1/2, edited by Nicola Hodges, Jan-Feb, 1995, pp. 70

The sublime experience depends on our inclusion in a metaphorical “push of question and answer exchanges”, as Longinus termed it, “generated when the past is thrust into the present” (Cliff McMahon referencing A.O. Prickard’s translation ‘Longinus on the Sublime’, Oxford University Press, 1926, pp.13-49, in The Sublime is How,  ibid above). Longinus’ concept was one of cognition. If it is true that: ‘landscape can exist as a reflection on the inner walls of the mind, or as a projection of the inner state without’ (Bill Viola, 1995), then is the contemporary sublime a cognition of our communal terror of the finite nature of future landscapes? As David Blayney Brown asks (2004), “Is this because we sense a great change coming? Do we want memories or reminders before disaster strikes?” In a contemporary sublime, our participation is no longer conditional on a safe distancing, but is a recoginition of our own memeto mori, a memorial to the memory of a time when our landscapes were to be marvelled at, rationalized and which are fading fast.

These are the ideas I am trying to work with in my landscape installation pieces. While the notion of impermanence and permanence, and memory impregnates all my work.

In relation to this the work of Mariele Neudecker’s Unrecallable Now, at Spike Island in Bristol (1998) and Noemie Goudal’s Les Amantes, (Cascade) (2009) which is currently being shown at the Saatchi Gallery as part of the Out of Focus, contemporary photography exhibition, deal with issues of the contemporary sublime, subverting the parameters:

Naomi Goudal

Mariele Neudecker

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Lacuna_VictoriaAhrens_2012

Lacuna_VictoriaAhrens_2012

Lacuna– 6 photo-collages on handmade book covers

Lacuna, refers to a neurological condition- a gap in our memory- that often occurs after trauma. It  also references the etymology of the word ‘lake’ : lacuna/ae (Latin).  Here the images are all of vanishing and reappearing lakes (Loughareema, in Ireland- Bernardo O’Higgins, in Chile- Lake Jackson, Florida- Lake Peigneur, in Louisiana)-  a metaphor for remembering and forgetting. These bodies of water have changed their status as a result of man-made environmental factors (reservoirs built, mines and oil platform collapses, melting glaciers, roads). The ‘gaps’ in memory are also found in the making of the piece. Here six photo-transfers are scanned and reprinted onto book paper, then mounted on cardboard and book cloth. Each layer reduces the surface of the original, while picking up textured remains on the surface of the scanner and on the surface of the paper. The printed palimpsests work together with small archaeological symbols that refer to the unusual geological features of each lake.

I have been researching archaeological drawings for this piece- they are extraordinary drawn records of the layers of an archaeological site- often created free hand with each layer drawn as it is found on a particular kind of tracing paper. The layers are then put together to form a single image. Also the symbols used to denote different terrain or objects found is like a language in its own right and fascinating to look at from a purely aesthetic point of view.

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Untitled

In order to get to this as a final image, I first went through a multitude of different versions, on tracing paper, transparent paper, moving the ink around the surface of the transfer. Although these were interesting experiments, I ended up coming back to the original images and starting from scratch again to find the particular, mediated quality I was after.

Here  is an example (above) of the images created by ‘smudging’ the wet ink on the surface of the transfer,  abstracting the subject and giving it a painterly feel.

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