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Ran from: 15TH DEC 2012 - 3RD FEB 2013

7th OPEN artists


Press reviews for the 7th OPEN

The List

The Scotsman

    This exhibition includes 19 image-makers selected from 67 applicants responding to a call for artists to showcase work in a 'lively exhibition embracing the range of formats and methods of photographic image-making.' The results are examples of that declaration and further propose that photography is very much widely practiced and applied in the creative sector, whether over or under the radar of what is known of visual arts activity in Scotland.

    Some of the defining features of photography weave throughout the exhibition - Alan Campbell references the travelogue, and through capturing people and events, aims to construct another story of the imagination, whilst Theresa Moerman Ib's set of three small prints are the visual records of lost moments, fragments of memory from the artists recent past. Landscape and remote places are conjured up in the poetic work of Alex Boyd and Jen Wilcox, referencing history and identity in place. The loss of communities and that which bound them together, is the subject matter of Findlay Rankin's set of three photographs on Govan, and in Chris Leslie's use of photography as a social record of the urban transformation which can too easily erase the past. Whilst the demise of large-scale manufacturing is an background topic in these works, the perseverance of the traditional are celebrated in Carol Ann Peacock's chronicles of the beginning and elegant outcome of the small hand industry of tweed-making in Scotland.

    Photography as a 'punctuation' or as part of a wider post-modern practice is evidenced in Alex Hetherington's series taken of scanned film stills from wider happenings that are curiously alluded to, and in Rebecca Milling's use of the photograph to capture the pivotal moment of an act, or 'performance', which is also reflected in Ashley Good's work which freezes the movements of fencers and dancers in duel's which mirror each other.

    Staged photography is represented too in Flannery O'Kafka's work which references characters in classical literature, but acted through her own children - a similar melancholia flows through Nicola Stead's mis-en-scenes of personal alienation, which are also embodied in Stephen Healy's distortion of the normal viewing experience to evoke the sci-fi writings of a dystopian future. The exploration of psychological states is tackled in the work of Melanie Sims, exploring sometimes difficult inner feelings to find the appropriate visual metaphor to convey these – crumpled bed sheets, suggesting insomnia, tension, an absence of rest.

    Photography meets sculpture in the presentation of Holly Prentice's works where a range of materials are deployed including metal, glass and wax, in this contemplative work which uses the photographic image as the index for the other media – whilst Iain McLean's flash light interventions in woodland, illuminates aspects of the trees and leaves that gives them a separate sculptural presence, freezing a transitory moment within the frame of the photograph, reminiscent of Goldsworthy. In Kristian Smith's work, on the other hand, found photographs are repurposed to reference vernacular photography from the 19th and 20th centuries, saying something of the current condition of art photography.

    Joanna Waclawski's cluster of works seem on the surface to reference the casuality and disposability of digital image-making, but underneath the veneer, there is a passionate avowal for the analogue, and the need to make images 'vital', real, subject to flaws and the imperfect. This is also very much part of the creative process for Inna Smullen whose black and white images emanate a tension, sexuality and melodrama. The reference to alchemy is appropriate here with regards to chemical image making – the process of darkroom production is transforming and the consequences of the imperfect within that add to its enchantment.

    The strong component of traditional photography does dominate the 7th Open – in Alex Boyd's case using an earlier photographic process. These speak not of post-photography, but proto-analogue – not so much about ancestors and heirs to a process, but the use of techniques by artists today that more adequately convey the spirit – which is more tangible - of what the maker is intending. Photography as an expressive medium and as a document is bi-functional – it represents the simultaneity of past and present, of construction and disintegration, of pessimism and hope, and of the familiar and the strange.

    Download the exhibition PDF info sheet here>

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