The upcoming Photo50 exhibition at London Art Fair 2024, titled “Grafting: The Land and the Artist,” curated by the Revolv Collective, promises a thought-provoking journey into the realms of labor, landscape, and artistic expression. This collection of works by early and mid-career artists delves into the multifaceted representations of labor within the context of the land, offering a unique exploration of work, resistance, action, co-dependence, regeneration, and communion.
At the heart of the exhibition is the metaphor of grafting [more about graffiti in Ireland], a horticultural technique where two plants are joined to grow together. In the artistic context, this signifies an ethos of entanglement, creating a space for contemplation and learning about the intricacies of the world, its complex systems, and ecologies.
The accompanying talks program, aptly named “Grafting,” extends the exhibition’s narrative by shedding light on process, materiality, sustainability, and pedagogy as essential components of labor within artistic practices rooted in the land.
Among the selected works is Eugénie Shinkle’s “Ideal City (Somebody Else’s Landscape),” a project that reconstructs sections of four paintings by JMW Turner. Shinkle’s work reflects on her own sense of culture shock and claustrophobia upon moving to London from Canada in 1997. Using images of London’s streets as individual ‘pixels,’ she rebuilds enlarged sections of Turner’s c19th landscape paintings, creating a visual dialogue between past and present.
British artist Jackson Whitefield contributes to the exhibition with works like “Imprint I,” a piece crafted by embedding steel structures in the earth. Left exposed to the elements for three months, the imprints on paper become a testament to the dynamic interplay between nature and human intervention, documented through the lens of the artist’s camera.
In a different vein, Joshua Bilton’s “Clay Cast of Two Hands Touching” presents an organic clay sculpture housing a direct reproduction of two hands in contact. The subsequent photograph of the object adds what Rodrigo Orrantia aptly describes as “a second layer of representation,” liberating it from its original reference and inviting viewers to explore the nuances of touch and perception.
The Photo50 2024 exhibition encapsulates the spirit of artistic exploration and engagement with the land, transcending traditional boundaries and challenging perceptions. For those eager to embark on a journey of discovery, the London Art Fair awaits, offering a platform to witness these transformative works firsthand. Book your tickets now and immerse yourself in the entwined worlds of labor, landscape, and artistry.
A Glimpse into the Past: Unraveling Artistic Dialogues
Taking a retrospective lens, the artworks showcased in “Grafting: The Land and the Artist” beckon us to explore their connections with the rich tapestry of art history. This dimension adds an intriguing layer to the exhibition, as contemporary artists engage in a profound reevaluation and interaction with classical masterpieces, drawing parallels between their work and the timeless canvases of J.M.W. Turner, exemplified in Eugénie Shinkle’s thought-provoking pieces.
Eugénie Shinkle’s project, “Ideal City (Somebody Else’s Landscape),” not only reconstructs sections of Turner’s paintings but also invites us to contemplate the transformative power of art across centuries. Shinkle’s reinterpretation serves as a bridge between eras, addressing her own cultural displacement and invoking a poignant dialogue between her experience and the historical narratives embedded in Turner’s landscapes.
By delving into the interplay between past and present, these artists initiate a captivating discourse on the evolution of artistic expression. The juxtaposition of modern techniques and interpretations against classical foundations underscores the enduring relevance of historical art, emphasizing its role as a wellspring of inspiration and contemplation for contemporary creators.
This nuanced intertextuality enriches the viewer’s experience, encouraging a deeper exploration of the artistic choices made by these creators. The dialogue with the past becomes a dynamic conversation, challenging traditional norms and fostering a greater appreciation for the interconnectedness of artistic endeavors throughout different epochs.
As “Grafting: The Land and the Artist” unfolds, it becomes not only a contemporary exhibition but a narrative that intertwines the threads of artistic evolution. It prompts us to consider how the echoes of the past resonate in the present, forging a bridge between different eras and offering a profound meditation on the enduring power of artistic expression.