Opening Saturday 2 August, 2003, After Image brings together the work of
photographers Simryn Gill, Ana Mendieta, Cindy Sherman and Francesca
Woodman, in a show which crosses three continents and spans four decades
from the 1970s to the present, touching on issues ranging from
self-definition to cultural belonging.
After Image features UK premieres of work from Cindy Sherman’s Masks series,
1996, and Simryn Gill’s Dalam, 2001 and Vegetation, 1999, alongside the most
substantial showing to date of the defining works of Ana Mendieta and
Francesca Woodman (both deceased).
Curated by London-based curator Glenn Scott Wright, After Image is
accompanied by an ambitious education and events programme including talks
by Simryn Gill and Glenn Scott Wright.
As part of After Image, Simryn Gill’s Vegetation will be exhibited at the
Habitat Edinburgh store, 2 August – 27 September. Habitat is sponsor of the
After Image Education Programme.
Simryn Gill makes objects, collections, constructions and photographs which
are expressions of ‘how to be in a place’. The works often examine the idea
of ‘being an insider and outsider in many places at the same time’.
Gill borrows across scientific, sociological and art historical categories
to question singular or correct modes of description and order, challenging
received ideas and traditional frames of reference.
Dalam (malay for deep; interior; inside), 2001, is a series of 258
snapshot-sized photographs installed in a frieze-like band encompassing 24
metres of gallery space. Documenting living spaces of Malaysian homes, the
photographs were made during travel across Gill’s native home, the Malaysian
Peninsula, a place ‘that is inside me but also one from which I have been
removed for a very long time’. Gill knocked on doors of total strangers who
were persuaded to allow her in to photograph their living rooms, creating
an archive of images that speak of the absent occupants and also, of the
Vegetation is a series of five black and white photographs in which the
artist assumes a ‘flawed disguise’, using native plants as a clumsy
camouflage for merging into in the Australian, Singaporean and Texan
landscapes – the latter resulting from a residency at ArtPace Foundation for
Contemporary Art, Texas. The photographs are a self-confessed ‘conceit’ of
the artist’s. They allude to anthropological and botanical documents and,
particularly in their latent humour, to surrealist photo-collages from the
Gill is a Malaysian artist of Indian origin, born in Singapore. She has
travelled extensively, spending time living in India and the UK, and is
currently resident in Sydney, Australia. Her work has recently been the
subject of a major survey exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
in Sydney, and has been seen in several major international group
exhibitions including Cities on the Move, Hayward Gallery, London 1999,
curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Hou Hanru, and the 2nd Berlin Biennale for
Contemporary Art, 2001.
Ana Mendieta used her body and organic materials to explore a desire for
integration with the natural world. Often site-specific, her work was
created in performance, film, photographs, earth works, drawings, sculptures
and installations, arranging and documenting sometimes ritualistic processes
of transformation and confronting issues of birth, sexuality and death.
After Image presents three suites of images from the series Facial Hair
Transplants, 1972/1997, University of Iowa, together with Ocean Bird Wash
Up, 1974, a performance-based work documented by the artist on Super 8 film.
The photographs are significant works, described by the artist as a turning
point in a quest for her images ‘to have power, to be magic’, in which
Mendieta changes herself into a man through the application of facial hair.
Cuban-born, Mendieta was sent by her parents into exile in the United States
at the age of 12 in order to escape the Communist Revolution. The trauma
resulting from life in an Iowa orphanage and her sense of racial isolation
informed much of her work. Mendieta died in New York, in 1985, the result of
a tragic fall from an apartment window.
Ana Mendieta’s work is currently the subject of the retrospective exhibition
Body Tracks, Fries museum, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, excluding the work
featured in After Image.
Cindy Sherman is a profoundly influential artist whose work involves the
subjection of her own body to her photographic exploration of female
representation, reorienting our thinking about cultural icons and notions of
Famously, she has said of her images, ‘I am trying to make other people
recognize something of themselves rather than me’, declining to title any of
her works since the creation of the series Untitled Film Stills, 1977-1988,
considered a contemporary art classic. In this series Sherman impersonates
female stereotypes from B movies and classic Hollywood and foreign films of
the 1950s and ‘60s.
To date, Sherman has worked across twelve ‘series’ of loosely themed images,
photographing herself, and latterly dolls, artificial body parts and human
surrogates, as fashion models, gothic fairy tale characters, subjects of Old
Master paintings, disaster victims, sex objects, surrealist masks, the West
Coast nouveau riche and clowns.
After Image presents 10 photographs by Cindy Sherman, four from the series
Untitled Film Stills, 1977-1988; two from the Fashion series; one from
History Portraits, 1988-1990, and three from Masks, 1996-2001.
A survey of 10 years’ work by Cindy Sherman is currently being shown at The
Serpentine Gallery, London. This exhibition excludes the work featured in
Francesca Woodman photographed her body, in relation to space and objects,
often reducing it to a blur and rendering it absorbed or engulfed by the
surrounding environment. The results were psychological rather than physical
Born in Colorado, Woodman studied at Rhode Island School of Design,
including an Honors year spent at the school’s Rome campus, and became
heavily influenced by surrealism, particularly the work of Man Ray and
Breton, and Italian Futurism.
The artist’s fascination with photography began at the age of 13 when she
began taking her own portraits. From these emerged an apparition-like sense
of dissolution within the frame that was maintained within Woodman’s work
until her suicide nine years later in 1981.
‘I am interested in the way people relate to space,’ Woodman said.
Employing a slow exposure speed, the artist photographed herself jumping,
bending, waving and stretching often in empty rooms – the intimacy and
preciseness of her imagery imbuing her work with a haunting ‘vintage’
quality. After Image features 25 works by Francesca Woodman, many of which
have only recently released from her archive.
Francesa Woodman’s work is currently on show at Galerie Drantman, Brussels.
This exhibition excludes the work featured in After Image.
Providence RI, 1975-78
Courtesy George and Betty Woodman