The New ALCHEMISTS: Contemporary Photographers Transcending the Print
Photo50 is an exhibition of contemporary photography and features fifty works – most for sale – curated by Sue Steward (writer, broadcaster, photography curator).
This year, Photo50 opens up a spectrum of contemporary photography from the analogue to the digital. This selection of work by twelve photographers focuses on different ways of representing an image and it reveals the broad range of processes involved in image-making. Sue Steward has labelled them ‘alchemists’ because the term resonates with the ancient practitioners of photography, the experimenters with chemicals and paper, the pioneers of ‘writing with light’ which is what photo-graphy literally means.
Many images in this exhibition were produced through analogue processes and reveal surprising similarities with their digital counterparts; many mingle the two. There is also the changing assumption that the photographic print is the finished object, the ultimate goal of production. But it is no longer necessarily the end-point; the printed paper is enduring the transformation, partially destroyed or decorated, re-built to take on a new dimension – and becoming an original art work in its own right.
The works in Photo50 highlight the richness and diversity of photography today. It’s almost impossible now to define ‘photography’ because of its porous nature and its convergence with painting film and craft, demonstrated in this exhibition. It is a vast art form – and London is a hub for these significant, beautiful, seismic changes.
The New Alchemists: contemporary photographers transcending the print – curated by Sue Steward
London Art Fair has announced details of Photo50, its annual showcase of contemporary photography at the Business Design Centre, Islington, from 18–22 January 2012. With the title The New Alchemists: contemporary photographers transcending the print , curator Sue Steward has selected 50 works by contemporary artists whose practice sees them adorn, transform, subvert or deface the photographic print. They are: Veronica Bailey, David Birkin, Aliki Braine, Julie Cockburn, Melinda Gibson, Noemie Goudal, Joy Gregory, Walter Hugo, Lesley Parkinson, Jorma Puranen, Esther Teichmann and Michael Wolf. Together, they provide a snapshot of contemporary artists working in photographic mixed- media in the UK and overseas. Many of the photographs in the exhibition are for sale, including a number of new artworks exclusive to the fair. Sue Steward, critic, writer, broadcaster and curator of The New Alchemists comments: ”These artists are each virtuosos of their craft, but the photographic print is not necessarily the end-point of their work. Partially destroyed, decorated, re-built, or created with a focus on process over product, the photograph takes on a new dimension and becomes an original art work in its own right.”
The New Alchemists: contemporary photographers transcending the print, focuses on new techniques and approaches to re-presenting the photographic image and how artists are involving other media. Whether reclaiming traditional techniques, exploiting digital developments or employing other forms of craft and media, the work presented in Photo50 challenges our assumptions about what a photograph is, or can be.
Veronica Bailey has employed technologies contemporary to the Korean War to create Hermes Baby, a new installation work exploring American journalist, Marguerite Higgin’s front line experience of the conflict.
David Birkin, in his Profiles and Embedded series, focuses on conflict and censorship, using digital code to transform numeric personal information about the victims of war into colourful photographic representation.
Aliki Braine hole punches through medium format negatives as a way of abstracting and
challenging traditional forms of landscape.
Julie Cockburn will exhibit exclusive new works for London Art Fair, from her ongoing series
of found photographic portraits transformed by collage, embroidery and other craft
Melinda Gibson creates photomontage collages from found images in print media, often
cutting out figures to fill their silhouettes with more abstract images.
Noe Goudal takes photographs of meticulously constructed sets, layering images to
create work that is vast, visually confusing and deceptive.
Joy Gregory chooses the arduous 19th century salt printing and kallitype techniques to
capture everyday 21st century items in her Objects of Beauty and Handbags series.
Walter Hugo uses his scientific background to re-appraise old photographic techniques,
such as taking portraits with a camera obscura or applying silver nitrate to surfaces other
Lesley Parkinson, a 2011 Brighton graduate discovered by Steward, has created a
photographic inventory of the curios and possessions of a Victorian collector.
Jorma Puranen paints wooden blocks in reflective black gloss and leaves them outdoors in
his native Finland, before returning to photograph the reflected landscape and weathered
Esther Teichmann paints family photographs with inks and acrylics to create fantastical
landscapes. She also works in black and white collage.
Michael Wolf, in his latest series Real Fake Art, photographs Hong Kong street artists
alongside their reproductions of iconic work by the likes of Lee Friedlander and William
Alongside Photo50 a number of galleries at London Art Fair will be exhibiting work by
contemporary photographers, including Alma Enterprises, BEARSPACE, Beers.Lambert
Contemporary Art, Danielle Arnaud, England & Co, Eyestorm, FAS Contemporary,
FOLEYgallery, GBS Fine Art Ltd, Hoxton Art Gallery, JECZA Gallery, Opus Art, Osborne
Samuel Ltd, Other Criteria, Pertwee Anderson & Gold, Purdy Hicks Gallery, Richard Saltoun,
Rise Art, Sarah Myerscough Fine Art, Serpentine Gallery, Stephanie Hoppen,
T E N D E R P I X E L . , The Cynthia Corbett Gallery, Troika Editions, UNION Gallery and the
A Photography Focus Day on Wednesday 18 January will examine contemporary
photographic practice with debates, discussions and tours; all free to attend with a ticket to
London Art Fair.
London Art Fair tickets are now on sale from www.londonartfair.co.uk at £11 (plus £1.50
booking fee) in advance, including a copy of the 2012 Fair Guide (to be collected at the
Fair). Tickets on the door are £16.
About Sue Steward writer, broadcaster and curator of photography, she worked for many years as a
Picture Editor, including for the Telegraph, Observer and other broadsheets, as well as for several
book publishing companies. She is now the Photography Critic for the Evening Standard, Editor of
Photography for the Raconteur supplement in The Times, a regular contributor to the British Journal of
Photography, Black and White Photography magazine and other print publications, and a contributor
on Outsider Art for Raw Vision magazine.