Material Translation

9 June 2013

Material Translation: Works from 2007-2009

Image information

1. Baker Fix in Black and White 2. 2009. 96 x 135 cms. C-Type Print

2. Baker Fix in Black and White 3. 2009. 96 x 135 cms. C-Type Print

3. Josephine Baker at the Casino de Paris, 1930. Photogrpah by Haim (Boris) Lipnitzki.

4. African Chair (for Gunta Stölzl). 2009. 120 x 57 cms. C-Type Print

5. Mirrored Portrait 2007. 60 x 39 cms C-Type print.

6. Mirrored Photomontage Part 1. 2007. 135 x 101 cms. C-Type Print


Material Translation: Works from 2007-2009. These staged colour photographs constitute an investigation into the way in which the archive, a discontinuous instant of time, can be undone and translated into lived temporality. In these works I explore the ways in which we enter a document or artifact, and also how we construct, and are constructed by, our encounter with the archival. The photographs are a means of looking backwards to see the glimmer of the now, of thinking historically in the present.

Constructed environments, altered props and cosmetics are used in order to approximate the appearance of black and white photography, extending the moment of the photographic instant and re-activating the archival. Working with polychrome film, but reducing the chromatic range of the objects depicted, I deliberately go against the grain of the colour photograph, as if stroking the fur on an animal backwards, a collapse of the logic of the medium.

In my photographs I often appear as an avatar or substitute for a historical character, object or event, though my physical presence is never the actual subject of the work. I am part of the work in a material sense, in the enacted gestures and corporeal signifiers, those visible markers of identity, such as skin, clothing, body language, as well as more ambivalent elements; the creases and folds of a costume, a reflection of the surface of a metallic object.

The Baker Fix series, African Chair (for Gunta Stölzl) from 2009, explore the way in which Animism and the Primitive were much sought after mirrors, by means of which modernity affirmed itself in the image of alterity. A stage costume worn by African American entertainer Josephine Baker forms the departure point for a series of six formal and conceptual interpretations of the structure of the ensemble. Muse and icon to early 20th Century artists, writers and designers, Bakers presence reverberates in a provocative fashion throughout orthodox histories of modernism, underscoring the movement's fascination with, and formal reliance upon, the 'exotic'.