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Various venues, Nottingham
1 September 16 November
Reviewed by: S Mark Gubb »
The Drawing with Light photography festival uses every major arts venue in Nottingham, profiling internationally acclaimed figures to emerging regional talent.
At the Angel Row Gallery, Eileen Perrier's 6-8 series portrays museum and gallery cleaners, placing the subjects in empowered positions ranging from the formal to the gigglingly awkward. The mixture of the pose and carefully chosen setting does nothing to give away their associate occupation; it's on looking closer that we spot things such as a regulation issue V&A tabard. These prints are imbued with a justified reverence for the unsung heroes of our arts institutions.
Jitka Hanzlová presents Brixton Series, photographs of women taken on repeat visits to Brixton. Purporting to be a snatched moment with a stranger, they send out a mixed message. Their stolid formality hints at more specific direction from the photographer than is claimed. Interspersed with these are shots of a window with the curtains roughly drawn or a leather couch still holding the imprint of its last occupant. Juxtaposed with the portraits they seem to be their perfect foil, alluding to a less conscious moment of human interaction.
The Art Exchange Gallery plays host to The Magic of Mark Making by Franklyn Rodgers, a beautiful series of portraits of black people with reflected light dancing across their faces. In some cases this light highlights and compliments the faces as with Caroline Mutiboko, reminiscent of 1970s magazine portraiture. In others, such as Mark Sealy, the light transforms the face into a dark, brooding landscape, alluding to tribal make-up or scarification.
The Yard Gallery continues its commitment to work in response to Wollaton Hall's natural history collection with Helen Sear's Spot, a collection of large-scale prints of stuffed birds, their eye obscured by an ellipse of colour. Whilst their romantic settings and poses betray their lifelessness, the act of obscuring their fake eye somehow makes them appear more alive then they have done for decades.
Ukadia by John Goto, at the Djanogly Gallery, works in stark opposition to the rest of the festival. Whilst other shows deal with capturing a moment or image, Goto's work tells a whole story. Using digital processes to construct his images, there is nothing 'traditional' about this as photography. As concerns the image, this is the perfect antithesis of the adage 'the camera never lies'. As concerns the message, nothing could be truer. Any tradition lies in the artistic reference consciously and carefully layered in to each and every scene.
The Djanogly Gallery have brought three series of Goto's work together for the first time. High Summer is a witty and bleakly accurate representation of our contemporary relationship with the countryside; Capital Arcade is a deconstruction of our relationship with the out-of-town shopping centre and the rampant consumerism contained within, and Gilt City focuses on the misfits and miscreants to be found on the pavements of our capital. In a show of this size, one could literally spend hours poring over these images to unravel Goto's intricate constructions. One becomes acutely aware that nothing is left to chance, even the title of a book being read by a wheelchair user outside McDonald's in Unit 3 of Capital Arcade, or the newspaper headline board in Harvest, informing us of Tony Blair's peerage.
Whilst these pictures can be appreciated by anyone who has ever dared to venture into the countryside, the capital city or an out-of-town shopping centre, Goto isn't afraid to reference the world in which they now sit. Laden with art historical reference, indeed the whole Capital Arcade series are based on paintings by the likes of El Greco, providing yet another layer for an appreciative audience to unravel.
To win a copy of Ukadia, the book published to accompany John Goto's exhibition at Djanogly Art Gallery, go to 'Subscriber prize'
S Mark Gubb is an artist based in Nottingham. He works across a range of media; video, sculpture, installation, performance, sound etc. and has also started to curate projects. He has a particular interest in history and popular culture and often uses a non-arts audience in the production or delivery of his work.
Angel Row Gallery »
Central Library Building, 3 Angel Row, Nottingham NG1 6HP
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