Tabula Rasa II
Works by five distinctive Glasgow-based photographers
It's unclear what the curatorial rationale is that unites the five artists for Tabula Rasa II at Street Level Photoworks. The exhibition handout mentions 'the passage of time' in relation to abstract notions of things like 'place', 'self' and 'history' – but surely all photography, regardless of quality, is bound by time and must allude to something.
Exhibition premise aside, the selected artists each bring something distinct to the table. Artists Julia Bauer and Stephen Healy draw our attention to the surface of their photographs. Bauer's life-size photographs of empty pin boards which invite us to add pins and notes according to a set of rules, is a logical extension of trompe l'oeil works going back to Samuel van Hoogstraten's quodlibets. Contemporary artists such as Lucy Mackenzie and Thomas Demand delight in blurring the boundaries between reality and representation; Bauer takes things a step further by asking us to literally pierce the surface of the image.
By contrast, Healy's subject matter and methods are romantic, and consist of a series of square, hand-printed black and white photographs of dreamlike landscapes. Healy has carefully selected images that compliment, or melt into, the messy accidents inherent in the printing process.
Alan Knox and Kotryna Ula Kililulyte take a more conceptual approach requiring a little more effort from the viewer. Knox's Man in the Moon uses black and white negatives from his family archive to draw our attention to the 'lost aura' of artwork caused by mechanical reproduction. Knox re-photographs the negatives with the full moon at various points of orbit lighting them from behind, and the effect is somber and surprisingly moving.
Similarly, Kililulyte's photographs bring the past into the present with photographs that evokes the textures, sounds and feelings of a place or time that may only exist in the artist's mind. An accompanying sound-piece featuring an interview conducted by a Western journalist with her father during a time of political unrest in Lithuania gives the visual aspect of her work sharp focus.
Street Level Photoworks, until Sun 5 Feb 2017