Work in Process at The Photographer's Gallery explores new and recent work by five contemporary female artists, whose process-based practices focus on the photographic surface, interacting with it in challenging and innovative ways.
Approaching photographic prints as three-dimensional objects, Julie Cockburn draws on her training as a sculptor to re-invent vintage photographs as unique, contemporary works of art, through careful and meticulous application of hand-embroidery and other mixed media.
Physical intervention is also harnessed in Jessa Fairbrother’s series Armour Studies (Regarding Skin) (2012-ongoing) in which she proposes the body-as-site to perform and meditate upon personal experiences and emotions. Here, intricate needle perforations in the surface of the silver gelatin prints highlight the skin’s role as vessel and surface.
Liz Nielsen omits the camera altogether to produce her unique vivid, abstract photograms. Her distinctive works are created using an alternative darkroom process, involving handmade negatives with coloured gel transparencies and found light sources, including torches, bicycle lights and mobile phones.
Alma Haser uses repetition and appropriation to layer and re-configure the photographic image as a means of questioning what is real and what is manufactured. Her recent series Within 15 Minutes (2017-2018) features 1000 piece puzzles of identical twins’ portraits manually assembled and combined to make new individuals that are no longer recognizable or identical. Haser’s three-dimensional works from Pseudo (2018) involve various stages of re-photographing real plants and their digital renderings, then assembling and cutting away to reveal multiple layers that invite the viewer to look deeper into the image.
Photography also takes on a sculptural form in Felicity Hammond’s Surfacing (2017), an on-going investigation into the extraction of the digital world into the physical. Using photographs of adverts for future sites in the city, Hammond prints digital collages of both real and imagined spaces onto acrylic and then, making moulds to vacuum them, creates abstracted, futuristic works each with a unique terrain.
All these artists employ alternative processes to create photographic works that celebrate the materiality of the photographic medium as object, especially in an age of ubiquitous digital media.