Museum of the Contemporary Photography
October 18–December 20, 2013
It is the movement as well as the sights going by that seems to make things happen in the mind, and this is what makes walking ambiguous and endlessly fertile: it is both means and end, travel and destination.
—Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust
Walking is one of humankind’s most basic acts, it’s practical and ordinary in everyday life and we seldom put the idea in consideration. The meditative and spiritual character in the action are revealed more in the process of making after different way of capturing image is invented. Photographers with a camera on with them and walking around became part of our understanding in “Photography”. In this exhibition, it examine the encounter of subject through walking.
In the show, it’s a combination of museum collection and invited works. The collections are a gentle remind for the audience of how the artist in the past thought of walking, works like Gary Winogrand or Dorothea Lange. They see photography as a way of documenting everyday life and a way to recreate new form. But in this show I would like to focus more on the works they curate from current artist’s work, which represent some newer and different perspective.
To recreate the evidence of existence is an unique point and advantage of photographers. The possibility of real embedded in photography give artist freedom to recreate their route in a different way. In Sohei Nishino’s work, he collage the image he took from the city and remade a “city map” in a dreamy and surreal way. This way of making combines the truth of his existence of different place since all the image is made and cut by him, in the same time he used his walking experience to challenge the idea of geographical map produced by precise science. In Odette England’s work, she revisited his childhood home with her parents and England asked them to affix the negatives which she took to the soles of their shoes and meander through the homestead. She made photos from the negatives. In this poetic gesture she recreate the lost of memory on the broken and fragile image, and the physical attach of film and foot become part of the work.
The reencounter and reexamination of street photography is also part of the show. In Paulien Oltheten’s work, she makes photographs and videos of people reenacting gestures or motions that she first witnesses and then asks them to replicate. Which challenge the idea of how artist approach the idea of making photo on the street through walking. In Liene Bosquê and Nicole Seisler’s work, they invited participants to make physical impressions of the city in wet porcelain clay blocks. With “walking as a tool for art making, and creating tangible connections between people and place,” Bosquê and Seisler build collections of objects that reflect the relationship between individuals and the urban landscape. The engagement of the anonymous became vivid and not just someone be shoot on the street anymore.
And the examination of the physical action of walking itself also plays a role in the show. Jim Campbell tried to capture the action of walking but updates Muybridge’s approach. Unlike the photographs by Muybridge and most others, the figure is defined not by the light reflecting off it, but rather as a negative image where the space surrounding the figure emits light. The image is vague, there’s no identified face and figure, but in the train-station-like space, the movement of body reminds audience the action of walking itself.
If there’s anything critical to say about the show, I might think about many contemporary Japanese photographer like Rinko Kawauchi, who still insist their way of making, which is walking and shooting and present single images. The form might be old and cliche, but I think there are still some great work which worth participating the conversation. For me, the show is pretty satisfied to me with the different point of view in the process of art making. The reexamination might not be super surprising, but still have their unique point of view.