Katie Cooke: Balancing Act
This body of work is a concise but moving depiction of the photographer’s struggle through several courses of surgery, which may have left her unable to walk. The pinhole exposures correspond with the length of time Cooke was able to stand and represent a kind of pictorial diary as much as a thematic series.
The beginning of the exhibition brings to mind Victorian circus performers attempting death defying acts – with hints of instability and limited success – and is best viewed from a slight distance so the developing narrative becomes apparent. The selection concludes with two very moving pieces, ‘Gargoyle I & II’, which document the despair and fear of entering the surgical theatre after a previous failure. Cooke mentions that she has no memory of producing one of them, such was the stress on the body and mind at the prospect of never walking again.
The second half is a more positive exploration of technique and self, with beautifully ghosting imagery to balance the darkness inherent in the former. The ethereal quality of the photographs is due in part to long exposures from anything between one minute 30 seconds and 12 minutes, underlying the notion that even when we think we are standing still there is always movement.
Axolotl, Edinburgh, until Sat 31 July