Inspired by the poem ‘Amaze’ by the American poet Adelaide Crapsey (1878–1914), Cooper & Gorfer’s series ‘I Know Not These My Hands’ navigates through the ubiquitous traces a troubled history leaves on the human mind and speaks of the aspects of love, loss and layers of identity. The role of hands that play in the project is as a symbol of the deeds you have done or maybe you have not …
“Based on a comprehensive research travel to northwestern Argentina, we map memory and investigate questions of identity and displacement through chance encounters, interviews and photographic meetings with people from different levels within the Argentinian society and adjacent lands. Reflections on colonial wounds, forced migration, and more recent political turmoil surface throughout the project.”
Cooper & Gorfer – I Know Not These My Hands
Cooper & Gorfer comprises the artists Sarah Cooper (b. 1974, USA) and Nina Gorfer (b. 1979, Austria) and for more details about them and their project, watch this video.
The series is published in a book by Kehrer Verlag.
Florian Ruiz’s series ‘The White Contamination’ – portraying the landscape around Fukushima as a poignant photographic reflection of the fleeting moments, the unexpected, the fortuitous, and the deformed, in a multiple reality through a process of assembly, collage and super impression, and by challenging the ability of photography to put in image the invisible danger of the radioactivity.
Florian Ruiz – The White Contamination
“Nature has an essential place in my current work; it is the place where radioactivity accumulates the most… Inspired by traditional Japanese engravings and the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich who seeks to give a spiritual dimension to his paintings. “The painter must not paint only what he sees in front of him, but also what he sees in him”. I wanted to make the landscape accessible to the expression of the Sublime even if it’s contaminated by radioactivity… Japan maintains a strong cultural relationship with nature, loaded with Buddhist notions emphasizing the reality of a world where the only thing certain is the impermanence of all things.”
Florian Ruiz – The White Contamination
Why in ‘white’? The artist replies with a quote from Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’, Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale “…yet for all these accumulated associations, with whatever is sweet, and honorable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood.“
Cope and Arnold’s project ‘Stamen’ – dreamy still lifes created by flower arrangements subjected to chemical substances to explore the dual character of nature as giving birth and the subsequent death, and the circle of life of fleeting beauty. The series is inspired by the abstract photography and resembles romantic oil paintings of the 19th century.
“A very New World thing combined with an Old World thing like paintings of flower arrangements… The act of bathing and submersion is the very first in the process of physical and psychological cleansing; it signifies the beginning of the death and rebirth of the self. Through this process we sought to create images which reflect stasis, conflict and surrender between these opposing forces.”
Giulio Di Sturco’s series ‘Living Entity’ – an eight year story about the first non-human entity granted the same legal rights as the people in India – the river Ganges, to raise questions about our responsibility towards it. If we have decided to accept it as a human being, will we treat it this way? “Is the Ganges destined to die exactly under the blows of humanity, or can we hope for change?”
Giulio Di Sturco – Living Entity
“The Ganges is a prime example of the unresolved contradiction between man and the environment.” Once wild, free and vigorous Ganges has dramatically changed over the recent years, affected by the climate change, industrialization and urbanization, and now is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. The Ganges river is considered sacred by more than 1 billion Indians and on brink of an ecological crisis, will it just threaten to damage the human daily life, health and environment, or also the spirit of the river itself?
“The Ganges River is a symbol of Indian civilization and spirituality—it is a source of poetry and legends. In Hindu mythology, the Ganges is considered a “Tirtha,” which means a crossing point between heaven and earth. My fear is this bridge may crumble in our lifetime.”
Julia Fullerton-Batten’s series ‘Old Father Thames’ – a visual tale about the real events with the river Thames as central character in stories of hope, loss, history, progress, life, and death on its banks.
Julia Fullerton-Batten – Old Father Thames
“The River Thames is not even the longest river in the British Isles and a mere pygmy in comparison with other rivers in the world, but it’s significance to British and world history is immense. London is one of the major cities of the world today, but it would not have existed without the River Thames. The river has acted as a source of fresh water and food, an artery of communication and transportation, and a physical and psychological boundary. The River Thames has truly defined the character and prosperity of London for over well over 2,000 years… The stories encompass birth, baptism, death, suicide, messages in a bottle, riverside scavenging youngsters, quaint ancient boats, prison ships (‘hulks’), and include other melodramatic episodes of life and death in and along the Thames.”
Jens Liebchen’s ‘System’ – a series of portraits of Japanese Black Pines in the Gardens of the Imperial palace in Tokyo, too perfect and pristine, than natural, as a reflection of the conflict in the Japanese culture between the principles of society and the mere beauty.
”The tradition of tree shaping has come to assume an emblematic role in Japanese culture. Trees and shrubs in Japanese gardens are often drastically modified. Sculptors both control the location of the trees and manipulate the growth of trunks, branches, and leaves. Little, if anything, is left to nature.”
Claire Rosen’s ‘Persephone’s Feast’ – “series of still life imagery, follows in the footsteps of the masters of the Baroque period, in the concept of ‘memento mori’, harnessing the symbolism of objects to illustrate the fleeting quality of time and the transience of life. These compositions focus on light, color, texture, and atmosphere, and are a stark contrast to the saturated, high-volume of our fast-paced modern life. Viewers are invited to meditate on the dignity, beauty, and purpose in each object, all of which evoke one essential point. This too shall pass… These still life images aim not to grab your attention, but hold your attention. In the age of distraction, they allow us to focus on what is essential. They are a reminder that we are ships passing in the night, and must mindfully choose how we devote our brief and precious time on earth.
Claire Rosen – Persephone’s Feast
In Greek mythology, Persephone, (Greek: Περσεφόνη) was a goddess of agriculture, the harvest, the seasons and the underworld.
Giada Ripa’s ‘The Yokohama Project: 1867-2016’ – an imaginary conversation about Japan going back to the 19th century, between the artist and her ancestor Mathilde Ruinart de Brimont, along with the visual narrative of Felice Beato, as a part of exploring her family story and the western vision of this enigmatic country through the years.
Giada Ripa – The Yokohama Project 1867-2016
The project is composed around 53 hand-coloured old photographs, views and historical notes about the city of Yokohama, its surroundings, Japan and the Japanese society. Their author is Felice Beato, an Italian, who in 1860 settled in Japan when it had just opened its doors to the western world. For over fifty years, until the early 20th century, Beato’s photographs were one of the principal source of collective imagery of the Far East. They were published into many travel books and newspapers, and ‘helped’ to shape the standard ‘Western’ notion about Asian society.
A few months later, the artist discovered “an unpublished manuscript of Mathilde Ruinart, and ancestor of mine, an artist and muse to several intellectuals, who left for the Orient in 1867, along with her diplomat husband, providing a vivid description of it. From her “Carnets de Voyage” and “Voyage au Japon” emerges the friendship with Felice Beato explaining how the album ended up in the house.”
With these two treasures in hand, Ripa decided to fly to Japan and go back in time making the same photographs “acting as the link between Beato’s images and the figure of Mathilde, following their respective footsteps and attempting, through my western prism, to identify local contemporary analogies, and convey 150 years later, the transformations of society and landscape in Yokohama and its surroundings.”
“I focus on going beyond environmental or cultural values, focused on the essential structure of the landscape and of the textile. Regarding my perception, it is not simply a translation of the other, but instead one can be found in the other — the tree behaves the same in the forest as it does in the textile. In a similar way the mind finds comfort in the distant horizon as in woven memories of here and there. Perhaps I found a meshwork of myth and memory that connects and interweaves a parallel universe not of deserts, glaciers, jungle and dense forests, not of way finding or the exoticness of the other sense, but a place that is constructed by a million trillion threads that are witness of human perception.”
Philip J Brittan’s series ‘Last Garden’ – an intimate collection of impressions, inspired by his mother’s positive vision about life, symbolized by her pride and delight – her beautiful garden, and marked by the physical contact with it.
Philip J Brittan – Last Garden
“She was a dedicated gardener who gained immense pleasure from the many hours she spent working in the garden that she maintained for sixty years. The results were magnificent, combining a wide variety of plants in ways that enticed complimentary comments from visitors and from strangers passing by. Being in the garden always raised my mother’s spirits, lifting her out of the restrictions and pressing concerns of the now… ‘Last Garden’ is a series I made in my mother’s beautiful garden that she became too frail to maintain in the last months of her life… The prints are painted with various media and then buried in the garden for extended periods of time, allowing the place to connect with them in a very direct way and influence the finished work.”