Whitehot Magazine

July 2011, Photography as Object @ Summaria Lunn Gallery

Noemie Goudal, Les Amants (Promenade) (2009)
Colour photograph, 168 x 211cm
Courtesy of the artist and Sumarria Lunn Gallery


Photography As Object
Sumarria Lunn Gallery
36 South Molton Lane,
London W1K 5AB
7 through 29 July 2011

There are no smooth surfaces in the photographs adorning the walls of the Sumarria Lunn Gallery. There’s always something cut out, wedged in or swung outward, and even in the one case where the surface is physically flat, you’re still loath to call it so. It would somehow be insulting to Noemie Goudal, who has created multi-layered experiences within each artwork. Goudal has re-photographed her images of a bridge or a tropical landscape inside a gritty environment, creating windows into other worlds. But the illusion is fractured, as the idyllic images are printed on several pieces of A3 paper and the gaps in between are clearly visible. Still, you can’t help but want to go there, stepping first into the barn or warehouse where the shoot took place, and from there on into nature. You can see the illusion isn’t real, but it doesn’t matter, you want it anyway.

The sculptural elements are strong within the works of each of the four artists making up Photography As Object. While inventive presentation is not unusual for photographic exhibitions, this show certainly takes things a step further. Take Darren Harvey-Regan’s The Halt: the image shows an axe, and the same axe is whacked into the photograph. The image of a saw has the paper sliced down the middle so the pieces gape outwards. Harvey-Regan says he considers a photograph to be “something not only to think about, but to think with”; you look at the work and replay the process of making it in your mind. Equally clever is Harvey-Regan’s third image, a long, narrow picture with a nothing but a stone at the bottom. This is where the paper curves out, in an incredibly simple but stunning effect. Looking at it, you can practically feel the weight of the stone.

Julie Cockburn reworks old photographs by methods such as adding embroidery patches or turning faces into kaleidoscope patterns. Adding layers in this manner removes the identity of the subjects, but at the same time it adds new elements. We don’t know who the people in these old photos are, and although Cockburn doesn’t give us the answers to these questions, her changes evoke questions about the nature of identity.

While the finished result looks significantly different, some of the same questions can also be gleaned from Francis Mason’s work. Photographs of modern buildings are cut open and the gaps are filled with uneven cement or chipped plasterboard. The images have the feel of abandonment, like a new office building sitting empty because the anticipated demand never materialised.

The artists in Photography As Object complement each other beautifully, each exploring an aspect of the common theme. Sitting squarely across two unique disciplines, photography and sculpture, each image is amplified by the artist’s manipulation; in fact, the image of the axe would be pretty dull without the addition of its live counterpart. This way you find yourself standing there, craning your neck as you try to get to grips with what you are looking at. It’s still a photograph, but the rules are out the window and the new order is ripe for the plucking.

Darren Harvey-Regan, The Halt (2011)
C-type print with axe, 54 x 43cm
Courtesy of the artist and Sumarria Lunn Gallery

Julie Cockburn, Love Sick (2011)
Collaged photograph, 25.5cm x 20.3cm
Courtesy of the artist and Sumarria Lunn Gallery

Francis Mason, Disruption 8 (2010)
Digital print, wood panel, concrete, plaster and emulsion paint, 29 x 44cm
Courtesy of the artist and Sumarria Lunn Gallery

Jessica Furseth

Jessica Furseth is a freelance journalist living in London. Read more of her writing here: http://jessicafurseth.wordpress.com/

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