The exhibition titled A Forged and Delicate Future was created within PARALLEL – European Photo Based Platform as a curatorial project in response to the thematic framework of the program’s 4th cycle: Changing Times: Art Facing a New World.
“A Forged and Delicate Future features five artists who reconstruct past-and-present-day ephemera to navigate the world’s fragile state of being and cast new visions of reality. Driven by the global rise of misinformation and ecological failures, these artists mine the past to unearth the gritty, obfuscated layers of the present day. Rather than photographing their immediate surroundings, these artists employ a physical archive, often resting between the highly personal and foreign. This medium of found documentation — which is heavily associated with memory — can take the form of newspapers, family photo albums, letters, social media comments and even invasive plant species. By twisting, stretching, and rearranging archival combinations of text and image, a more precarious and nuanced future emerges.” (Eric Lawton, curator)
Exhibiting Artists: Gustavo Balbela, Elsa Gregersdotter, Andrej Lamut, Ida Nissen, André Viking
Brazilian artist Gustavo Balbela juxtaposes found text and images from Brazilian newspapers in his series Nothing Will Be As Before. Constructed in the shadowed rise of an authoritarian and denialist Brazilian government, foreboding headlines are paired against disconnected, banal images from local print media. The resulting form highlights a chaotic arrangement where seemingly rigid news frameworks fall apart and leave the viewer reckoning with fragmented absurdities. Physical collages expose this new reality of living in an age defined by a lack of objectivity and collapsing certainties such as freedom and health. In an environment where truth and reality seem to lose all consciousness, Balbela further dissects the content, assigning meaning to a world that doesn’t seem to have any meaning at all.
In the film Your Ears Are So Cute, Swedish artist Elsa Gregersdotter explores the intimacy of female friendship by interspersing footage of older women in mid-conversation with subtitles crafted from backhanded compliments Gregersdotter has received over the course of her life. For example, one woman comments to the other, “It’s strange that someone as beautiful as you, can be so ugly at the same time.” This forced pairing bridges the divide between her authentic experiences as a younger woman and the interpretations staged in a cross-generational context. Meaning can shift depending on the perspective and age of the recipient, as well as the viewer, as they reflect upon their own memories and conversations. These negative-positive criticisms about the female body reveal the oscillation of language and its dual ability to be both cruelly absurd and humorous at the same time.
Slovenian artist Andrej Lamut considers environmental destruction as a catalyst for sustainability by combining paper made from invasive plant species with various analog film techniques, including liquid emulsion, in his series Invasive Alien Species. Lamut recontextualizes the subject matter of invasive foreign plants, known for destroying native ecosystems, as a medium from which to build upon new strange abstract forms. The ensuing works showcase harmful plants like Japanese Knotweed and Canadian Goldenrod, by revealing their true character, reminiscent of otherworldly alien forms. Additionally, in the physical act of removing invasive plants from their destructive environment, Lamut actively supports the rehabilitation of his native environment.
In her series, Compile Your Inventory, Danish artist Ida Nissen constructs physical collages by cutting up, transforming, and glueing together photograms — camera-less images created in a dark room by exposing light directly onto light-sensitive paper without the use of a negative. The combination of tactile symbols interwoven across colorful abstract emulsions acts as a response to the slippery, complex undertaking of facing an ever-changing world. Thematic and poetic symbols emerge, such as the orchid, a reference to Nissen’s South-Korean heritage and name. Situated on the boundary between the familiar and unknown, the works offer clues pointing towards Nissen’s own personal quest for truth, without necessarily providing any clean answers or resolutions.
Danish artist André Viking employs his own family archive to rebuild fragmented domestic narratives in his series, Hello “Soul Mate”. Combining photos from family albums with letters his father wrote to his family while incarcerated, Viking considers how identities can shift depending on the coupling and decoupling of visual and textual content. The subtlety of photography can only offer so much precision whereas text, especially primary source material, can extend the clarity of intention. Scenes which could be interpreted as melancholy suddenly become humorous and vice versa. The series also spotlights the connection and interplay between memory and identity as seen through the lens of the family archive.
PARALLEL is a platform connecting creative European photographic organizations, where the eighteen participant institutions from sixteen countries of the European Community select and mentor new artists and curators participating in the program and create opportunities to organize exhibitions to present their works. During its 2018-2021 cycle, as a member of the platform, Capa Center has been successfully contributed to organizing several programs and in August 2021, it will host the closing exhibition of the cycle: in two curatorial projects selected through open call works of 11 young artists will reflect on the buzzword of the final cycle, being valid also for our present age: Changing Times.
PARALLEL is supported by the European Commission’s Creative Europe Programme, and designed and led by the cultural association Procur.arte. (parallelplatform.org)
The two chosen curatorial project – A Forged and Delicate Future and Of This World – Envisioning Alternative Cartographies – is on view until September 19, 2021 at Capa Center.