LondonHer Ground: Women Photographing Landscape
LISA BARNARD, MAJA DANIELS, RIKKE FLENSBERG, SCARLETT HOOFT GRAAFLAND, MONA KUHN, ANASTASIA SAMOYLOVA, CORINNE SILVA, DAFNA TALMOR
Flowers Gallery presents a group exhibition of work by female photographers. Her Ground uses landscape as a thematic focus to consider relationships between genre and gender.
The term landscape, a principle category in Western art, is used in relation to the visible features of an area of land, often depicting human relationships to place and the environment. This exhibition looks at the specificity of viewpoint, addressing the visibility of women’s narratives and perspectives in photographic images of the landscape.
Her Ground includes eight international contemporary artists, each approaching ideas of landscape in different ways. Their varied perspectives invite questions around how we define our landscape today and the connections to be found between landscape and cultural identity. Many works on view explore notions of power, agency and sexual politics, concerning the control, access and definition of land. Often the landscape is presented in fragmented or constructed forms, incorporating a revised visualisation of landscape through mythology, memory and the imagination.
British artist Lisa Barnard’s most recent project The Canary and the Hammer traces the history of gold, and its role in humanity’s ruthless pursuit of progress. Created in response to the financial crisis of 2008, Barnard uses gold as a prism through which globalism can be refracted, embarking on a personal journey across the world to reflect on how this ubiquitous material substance acts as a barometer of our changing times. Working across various thematic strands or chapters, connecting stories from the mania of the gold rush to the high tech industry, Barnard’s project incorporates images of the Peruvian mining landscape to explore the sexual politics of the supply chain. Barnard’s photographs show the practice of women known as pallaqueras, driven to the edges of Peruvian mines by pervading superstitions, to extract minerals from stones discarded by male peers. Barnard’s ambitious project is the subject of a new book published by MACK in Summer 2019.
Maja Daniels is a Swedish photographic artist whose work can be described as a multi-layered academic and artistic practice that includes photography, sociological methodology, sound, moving image and archive materials. Her most recent project Elf Dalia is a book and film project in Älvdalen, Sweden, a rural community in the far North of the country, which has one of the oldest surviving languages. The series explores the landscape and its mythologies through Daniels’ own photographs and an appropriated local archive of images amassed by a local inventor and photographer Tenn Lars Persson (1878 –1938) who was interested in astrology, alchemy and the occult. In her uncanny photographs of life in this isolated region surrounded by woods, mountains and lakes, Daniels’ images evoke the mysticism and dark spirits of the past, shrouded by its history as the origin of the notorious witch trials in 1668. The book is published by MACK.
Danish photographer Rikke Flensberg’s latest series O presents a fluid world of bodies and landscapes, in which a playful approach to scale generates new relationships and interactions between humans and the environment. Fragmented body parts resemble topographical surfaces, while images of the landscape rupture to create biomorphic forms. The title of the series refers to the zero point, from which new readings and meanings can develop, combining both natural and cultural features.
Dutch artist Scarlett Hooft Graafland has described using landscape as a stage for a performance or installation. Hooft Graafland’s carefully choreographed, site-specific sculptural interventions and performances take place in some of the most remote corners of the earth and are made in collaboration with isolated communities in those regions. Over the past decade she has explored the salt desert of Bolivia, the desolate Canadian Arctic, the remote shores of Madagascar and Vanuatu, and recently the United Arab Emirates, generating playful interactions that reflect and critique the exchange between nature and culture. The exhibition coincides with a major solo exhibition Vanishing Traces at Fotografiska, Stockholm.
LA-based artist Mona Kuhn uses landscape to portray the complexities of human nature. Her series She Disappeared into Complete Silence was photographed at a golden modernist structure on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, where nature, architecture, light and a single figure merge to create a surrealist mirage in the Californian desert wilderness. Using mirroring and refraction of light, Kuhn’s experimental abstraction of the landscape reflects the atmospheric mysticism and hallucinatory visions of the desert environment’s endless horizons. Works from this series have recently been shown in an expanded context as part of fully immersive site-specific installations involving a hybrid layering of sound, image projections and shimmering mirrored surfaces. She Disappeared into Complete Silence is published by Steidl.
Anastasia Samoylova is a Moscow-born, USA-based artist, moving between observational photography, studio practice and installation. Her series FloodZone extends a longstanding interest in the differences between natural and constructed landscapes, and the role of images in the making of collective memory and imagined geography. These photographs were made in the southern United States, in areas at risk from rising sea levels. Samoylova evokes the precarious psychological condition of a way of life that teeters between paradise and catastrophe. FloodZone is published by Steidl in September 2019.
Corinne Silva is a London-based artist using photography, video works and collaboration to disrupt prevalent modes of representing the landscape. Silva understands landscape to be a complex interrelation of culture, geography, politics and botany, living beings and inanimate matter. While Silva’s work is informed by historic precedents in landscape photography, she seeks a visual language that privileges fragmentation and interrelationships rather than an all-encompassing overview, responding to place in an embodied and subjective manner to create new narrative possibilities. In Garden State, Silva considers how gardening, like mapping, is a way of allocating territory. Over three years Silva travelled across Israel/Palestine, making photographs of public and private gardens in twenty-two Israeli settlements, which she presents as contributing to the reshaping and renaming of these contested lands. Garden State was published by the Mosaic Rooms and Ffotogallery in 2016.
Dafna Talmor is a London-based artist whose practice encompasses photography, video, curation and collaborations. Her Constructed Landscapes transform colour negatives of landscapes initially taken as mere keepsakes through the act of slicing and splicing. The resulting photographs allude to an imaginary place, idealised spaces or virtual spaces that exist beyond their fractured surfaces. The act of physically merging landscapes from different parts of the world acts as a metaphor for the transitional nature of belonging in today’s globalised societies. The Constructed Landscapes blur notions of space, memory and time to create a space that defies specificity and reflects the transience of our contemporary world.
Anastasia Samoylova, Building Exterior in South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida, 2017. From the series "FloodZone" © Anastasia Samoylova