Proving that photographic prints are more than just flat, two-dimensional planes, Work in Progress unites 16 diverse works by five contemporary female practitioners, exploring how visual documentation can be transformed into intriguing art objects. As well as exhibiting the captivating prints, The Photographers’ Gallery, London, have collaborated with Smartify, allowing viewers to scan artworks, gathering digitalised insights to contextualise the inspirations behind the developed prints. This technological addition offers a new dynamic to these already complex pieces, querying how the pre-existing conventions of visual rhetoric will continue to progress into the future.
Featured in the show is Alma Haser (b. 1989), whose puzzle-piece portraits negotiate the boundaries between the real and the manufactured. By capturing intimate depictions of identical twins, the photographer examines notions of identity, self-awareness and beauty, combining the two individuals to create one, multi-layered duel-picture. Entitled Within 15 Minutes (2017-2018), a disruption of the human form implies how manipulation can challenge the amount of truth available with the technological gaze. Accompanying this is Pseudo (2018), a never-before-seen piece which focuses on botanical forms and the impact of re-photographing. A collection of duplicate snaps are layered upon one another until they are finally merged and cut away, producing a new three-dimensional rendering.
Trained as a sculptor, Julie Cockburn (b. 1966) reinvents intimate, vintage portraits with textile interventions and mixed media. By adding cubist marks, gradient outlines and geometric stamps, the sepia and monochrome photographs, which hark back to the medium’s functional origins, are revitalised. Gust (2018) features in the exhibitions and is the artist’s largest embodied work to date.
Similarly, Jessa Fairbrother explores the humanistic use of image-taking through the perforated surfaces of Armour Studies (Regarding Skin). Evoking a classical representation of the nude form, the naturalistic function of bare skin – to protect and shield – is emphasised, placing the body as a performative entity. The surfaces of the faceless silver gelatin bodies are delicately indented with a needle, leaving behind a trail of marks and negotiating how skins act as a vessel, displaying a chronology of personal experiences.
The Photographers’ Gallery, London, 27 April – 9 June. Find out more here.
1. Alma Haser, Lee and Clinton. (2017).