Shadow Catchers was a fantastic exhibition at the V&A. I managed to get in to see it on Friday just before it finished this weekend.
The exhibiton showcased the work of five artists/photographers who make their photographic work with out the use of a camera. Along side the artists prints the V&A also displayed test strips, display cases and a short film about each artist.
Floris Neisuss' work deals with photograms and the piece the captured my attention was a photogram of a human figure sitting in a chair. This was displayed life-size on the floor with the empty wooden chair standing atop the print. The title of this piece 'Be right back', gives a comical meaning to the piece. This print grabbed me because of the nature the photogram and how you achieve different densities in the image. The figures shoes were in a sharp dark shadow if you like and the head and hair in a much softer, lighter shadow. For me, I could see exactly how the light, that had exposed the image, had fallen onto the paper. This seamed to be a unique way of looking at what would have been a traditional photogram.
Pierre Cordiers work is centered on the 'chemigram,' which he discovered in 1956. This process is about directly manipulating the surface of the photographic paper with different substances. Cordiers work had a very clinical and scientific feel for me and did not interest me as much as the other works in this exhibition. I felt that I needed a lot more information about how he had created his images to fully appreciate them and this is something I would like to find out more about.
Garry Fabian Millers work looks at change over time. The first images in this section of the exhibition look at plants and the natural world. Miller used an enlarger to make a direct translation of the plants onto photographic paper, the images are life size and for some reason this frustrated me, I wanted to see the detailed colourful leaf as big as possible although the idea of Millers work is a direct translation, not a manipulated one. The second half of Millers work was about colour and making more abstract work in the darkroom. This part of the exhibition lost me a little, Millers work became a lot more about fine art than photography I could not understand or appreciate it as much as say the simple yet ancient photogram.
Susan Derges began photographing still life in a studio environment before she changed to a camera-less form of photography when she became inspired by the natural world around her. Her series of season arches were my favourite pieces in the whole exhibition by a long shot. Displayed as huge arched windows and with one for each season, they were made up of a few different elements. The first begins with scans taken of ink dispersing in water. These scans are then printed into large transparencies and placed under a glass tank filled with water, flowers, reeds and grasses (different natural objects to represent different times of year) these were then photographed and the images stitched together to make the final pieces. They are magical, huge scale, beautifully simple, natural scenes silhouetted against vibrant blues and I want one.
Adam Fuss was the only name I recognised out of the five artists. Again he works with photograms and said in the video made about his work that his photograms have more feeling and intimacy than a photograph. He also said 'you don't create you die!' I think this is a great idea, that creating is about survival. I enjoyed one print in particulat titled 'Ark' that showed a simple droplet falling into a flat surface of water. There was something so pure, calming and instantly recognisable about this image. I also fell in love with his daguerreotypes of butterflies from his 'My Ghost' series; I must learn more about these, I think I may have to buy the V&A's book.
All in all a fantastic exhibition once again and well worth the £5 entry.
Unfortunately there are no photographs to accompany this post, as cameras were not allowed.