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Landscape Trauma in the Age of Scopophilia

Group show at Cafe Gallery Projects. 2001
Date: 1 July, 2001 until 5 August, 2001
Curator: Richard Hylton
Organiser: Autograph ABP

Landscape Trauma in the Age of Scopophilia was at the Café Gallery (The Gallery, Southwark Park) 01/07/01 - 05/08/01. It was organised by Autograph and curated by Richard Hylton, who was at the time Autograph’s Curator. Landscape Trauma was an unusual exhibition, insofar as it featured a mix of artists from different ‘racial’ backgrounds. This marked something of a new departure for Autograph. Spread over two venues (Café Gallery, and a nearby building that was originally a church) Landscape Trauma featured a range of work by Annabel Howland, Henna Nadeem, Ingrid Pollard, Camila Sposati, and a Consortium called The Search for Terrestrial Intelligence.

The exhibition’s press release stated “The notion of landscape evokes something quite literal, from the idyllic or troubled countryside, to expressions of the ‘political’ or ‘cultural’ terrain. Using landscape as its starting point the exhibition presents illusions of scale and space, the macro and micro, the aural and the visual which fluctuates between abstraction and depiction, the spectacular and the intimate”.

Whilst much of the exhibition referenced rural, geological and cartographical affairs, Sposati’s work distinguished itself by its wholly urban construction and references. Her contribution to the exhibition was a video projection, titled ‘Talk to Me’. It featured video footage, apparently shot from a helicopter, of a vast and sprawling concrete jungle of what appears to be one of the world’s biggest cities, Sao Paolo. The video showed the awesome city by day, as night falls, and by night. Skyscrapers and other buildings designed for dense occupation, literally as far as the eye can see. Superimposed on this towering and spectacular urban landscape is a conversation between two people, a man and a woman.

Though they were clearly in the same physical space, their conversation suggested that they were, in reality, in different psychological, emotional, or mental spaces. The conversation was awkward, disjointed, disconnected. Her: I want to live in a different place… I’d meet different people… I’d go to a movie everyday… Him: “I’m going to cook pasta what sauce do you want? The work resonated with stark human isolation. Ironically, though the viewer had a bird’s eye view of literally millions of people, the viewer could not see or make out a single “ as in, individual - living soul. The non-conversation of the piece’s two protagonists confirmed the sense of human isolation of the city dweller - millions of people unable to properly engage with each other, even on a one-to-one level.

For the exhibition, Howland took enlarged photographs of landscapes, both urban and rural and then meticulously cut away at the images, thereby reducing them to almost eerie skeletal forms. Introductory notes to these scalpelled photographs described them as “reconfiguration’ which “results in works which are both physically and visually fragile’, whilst the artist herself is said to describe her images as “teetering on the edge between coherence and collapse, representation and abstraction, identity and psychosis’. In this regard, amongst her most successful pieces were her aerial shots of miles of agricultural landscape. These pieces prompted the exhibition’s viewers to question what is present and what is absent from the farmed countryside. By cutting away at the photographs, by slicing away at the body of the image, Howland emphasised and drew attention to the ways in which intensive farming has been charged with taking the “soul’ out of the land, leaving it depleted and stark, skeletal and bare.

Nadeem contributed a set of montaged photographs, which questioned and re-presented archetypal depictions of the countryside. Gallery notes offered the view that “Whilst the bottom image remains intact, the [overlaid] top image is cut away using the artist’s own customised Islamic or William Morris pattern as a template. These images, which are slightly askew, suggested movement or a shifting viewpoint, and appeared to be in a state of metamorphosis, promising but never actually coalescing into a coherent whole. In effect, Nadeem’s work was not one picture, but two. For within the overlaid geometric shapes there lay parallel pictures which, whilst heavily referencing the background pictures, simultaneously had a visual integrity of their own. Whilst the William Morris latticework presented itself as a largely decorative affair, some of Nadeem’s pieces suggested/presented an interplay between different types of landscape and attendant associations of territory.

Within the work of Howland, Nadeem and Pollard, the previously familiar picture plane was very consciously interfered with - disrupted, compressed, abstracted and destabilised. This work was amongst the strongest in the exhibition, as it had the intention and the effect of questioning perceptions of landscape.

Related items

click to show details of Ingrid Pollard | Landscape Trauma 2006 - postcard

»  Ingrid Pollard | Landscape Trauma 2006 - postcard

Postcard relating to an exhibition, 2007

People in this exhibition + view all 6

»  Richard Hylton

Born, 1967 in England

»  Henna Nadeem

Born, 1966 in Leeds

»  Ingrid Pollard

Born, 1953 in Georgetown, Guyana

Exhibition venues

»  Cafe Gallery Projects

London, United Kingdom