London Art Fair 2020 | Occupy The Void
Kim Shaw, Eye Candy, 2017, pigment print © Kim Shaw
Miranda Gavin, # 4, 2009. From the series Home Discomforts © Miranda Gavin
Laura Noble presents ten female photographers aged over 50 for the fourteenth edition of Photo50 at London Art Fair 2020
Wendy Aldiss | Samantha Brown | Elaine Duigenan | Miranda Gavin | Elizabeth Heyert | Sandra Jordan | Rosy Martin | Mercedes Parodi | Danielle Peck | Kim Shaw
The latest edition of Photo50, Occupy the Void, curated by writer, collector and gallerist Laura Noble, explores the vast pool of talented living female photographers aged over 50 and the cultural ‘space’ that they inhabit. The annual guest-curated exhibition will run during London Art Fair from 22-26 January 2020 (Preview 21 January), providing a critical forum to examine some of the most distinctive elements of current photographic practice.
Through the work of ten contemporary female artists working in the UK and internationally, the exhibition interrogates the physical, psychological and ephemeral nature of space and our experience of existing within it, both during our lives and after death. The exhibition is split into three key themes: how women occupy space; the psychological and personal view of space; and the notion of time and the abstract in space. Viewers will be taken on a personal, psychological and spiritual journey, and will be invited to reflect on their own lives and to challenge their perceived place within society.
Occupy the Void is an inclusive exhibition, presenting both established names and artists in the early stages of their careers, all of which are female and over the age of 50. Although 85% of women studying photography at university are women, only 15% of the industry is female. Thus Noble provides a platform for a diverse group of artists who are commonly underrepresented in the cultural dialogue, and offers them the opportunity to reclaim their space and the void.
Premiering new and never-before-seen works, the exhibition reflects the variety of photographic formats in 2D and 3D, and the diverse traditional and non-traditional materials employed in photography today.
Curator Laura Noble said:
“Occupy the Void is an exhibition about how we take up space, both literally and conceptually. A void is somewhere where we are put, relegated to or overlooked. Older women are frequently among those who feel that their voices are invisible – veritably placed into the void. I wanted to show the importance of those voices in the arts and, in particular, in the male-dominated area of photography.”
“All female and over 50, these artists explore how we take up space in their own unique way by reflecting on the past, facing the present and looking ahead to the future. This immense collection of female talent provides a powerful insight into a lesser-seen perspective, which we all hope will become the norm.”
Sandra Jordan’s series Hidden Beauty examines beauty and space through the device of architecture, creating a visual expanse even in densely populated urban scenes. Whether photographing the expansive landscapes of the Arctic or crowded urban environments, Jordan seeks solitude and calm within her work. The unremarkable concrete buildings in her photographs often go unnoticed, despite being lived in by many. However, in Jordan’s eyes, they are full of enticing shapes and repeating units with their own individualities; like architectural portraits viewed ‘face-on’. Her stark, unflinching façades set against grey expanses of sky create space for the buildings to breathe in their environment, reflecting her belief that we all need space to ‘just be’.
Sandra Jordan, Hidden Beauty #26, London, 2016. From the series Hidden Beauty © Sandra Jordan
Rosy Martin will be showcasing brand new works at London Art Fair, based on her relationship to the domestic space she occupies and the space that her parents left behind when they passed away. Martin considers how she occupies her own physical space in her London flat – her ‘nest’ that she has filled with items collected since 1981, some of which she kept from her parents house as they hold so much emotional significance.
Danielle Peck’s Dreamland series is shot in Margate, a British seaside resort town that has seen highs and lows over the years. Covering themes of regeneration and nostalgia, the series goes behind the seafront to explore the private and public lives of both residents and tourists. These nostalgic interiors hark back to a seemingly simpler time, showing residents rooms in what was once a hotel, then a boarding house and later bedsits in varying states of disrepair. Now redeveloped, the interiors bear no resemblance to the glimpses captured by Peck’s lens.
Kim Shaw’s work analyses the areas that she can and cannot access through her critique of the art world and the void she inhabits (or tries to as a woman of a certain age). Known as the Shoebox Gallerist, Shaw creates her own shoe-box size residence as an alternative to the places to which she has been denied entry in the past. For Occupy the Void, Shaw presents prints and sculptural representations of various arts venues, hanging both in large scale on the exhibition walls and in her own portable handmade spaces, which will also feature the works of fellow Photo50 artist, Wendy Aldiss.
Occupy the Void also brings together works that reflect on much more personal issues, from domestic abuse to loss as a means to examine a more psychological view of space.
Wendy Aldiss’s My Father’s Things is a deeply personal and heartfelt series, featuring 9,000 photographs of her father’s possessions taken after he passed away. The artist’s father, Brian Aldiss, was a famous science fiction novelist, and the exhibition shows his desk and bookcase strewn with photographs of his belongings. This piece of work was a way for Aldiss to cope with the upset and adversity of her loss, but also to celebrate his life and keep him connected to the space and surroundings.
Miranda Gavin’s Home Discomforts i s a series of 35mm colour transparency photographs taken in the flat where Gavin grew up and where she was sexually abused by her stepfather. Taken in the unoccupied flat years after she moved out, the photos show the rooms in daylight with verses from her poem, Don’t Touch Me Like That, w ritten on the walls. Gavin intentionally shot with light and shadow cast on the walls, breaking up the text and forcing the viewer to lean in closer to read it. By cleaning the space through burning sage, writing on the walls and photographing the interiors, Gavin reclaimed this void and the space of home, or at least gave voice to the abuse that had been kept behind closed doors.
Danielle Peck, Many Original Features, Sunlight. From the series Dreamland, C-type Fine Art print mounted on dibond © Danielle Peck
Samantha Brown, from the series Botany of Silence, 2015 - 2019, Inkjet print © Samantha Brown
Another key theme for this year’s Photo50 is the notion of time and looking at the idea of space in a much more conceptual and abstract way. Samantha Brown’s Botany of Silence combines her original documentary photographs of a demolished shoe factory with other source materials from social media, advertisements and archival images, to join together the past, present and future with notions of physical and narrative space. The photographs and 3D collages hanging from the ceiling of the exhibition are told through the eyes of a woman, with men omitted from the images to instead reveal old ruins of the factory. They look at the way in which the memories of these working women reside and still linger long after the doors closed on the factory.
Elaine Duigenan premieres brand new works, shown for the first time at this year’s London Art Fair, which reveal the fleeting existence of objects in space. Experimenting with numerous waxes and ways of ‘cooking’ the wax, Duigenan creates small bubbles which she captures before they burst. The resulting images are of tiny sculptures which are both out of this world and part of it, preserving a space that barely existed and would normally live a complete but brief existence, held under threat until pierced.
Elizabeth Heyert, Sleepers 03, 2003. From the series Sleepers, Selenium toned gelatin silver print © Elizabeth Heyert
Elizabeth Heyert’s The Sleepers is an intimate portrayal of how individuals and lovers sleep, exploring the physical space taken up when we are unconscious. Heyert challenges the idea that a portrait photograph is about the relationship between the photographer and the sitter by intentionally keeping her presence missing, observing rather than directing. Projecting her images onto the ruined town of Poggioreale in Sicily, Italy, which collapsed during an earthquake in 1968, Heyert invites the viewer to see the emotion as opposed to the superficial image of a naked body. Both the stone and the figures seem perishable and historical, but at the same time completely immortal. The images are displayed in the exhibition on wallpaper over 7m in length, giving the illusion of these people hanging by a thread.
Mercedes Parodi’s You Will Always Be will be presented for the first time at London Art Fair 2020. It is an evolutionary series of photographic sculptures exploring the cycle of life, our passage through time and space, and the traces that we leave behind. The beginning of the series relates to our creation and the emotive, cerebral and metaphysical aspects of our existence. Then, centrally, it depicts lift-off as we launch into the unknown, and ends with the freeing of our energy, which will leave in this universe an indestructible trace of our unique essence.
Photo50 2020 is kindly sponsored by Genesis Imaging.