Neil Hamon and Edwin Zwakman - 5 December to 30 January 2009
4 December, 7-9pm
Photographs are dedicated mirrors of what we see. They witness our experience of life and arrest it in a durable form before it slips away. Prolific and readily available, they are keepsakes of the real, hypnotic imitations, replications. This exhibition looks at the processes of replication, imitation and reproduction inherent in photography, drawing parallels with other ways of ‘mocking up’ reality, including model making, historical re-enactment and taxidermy. The two artists featured in the exhibition point their cameras at simulated events and sceneries that once photographed look strikingly real. They carefully lead the viewer to a point which lies somewhere between reality and make-believe, drawing attention to the verisimilitude of photographic images and other ways in which we attempt to arrest time.
The works of London-based Neil Hamon investigate our relationship with loss and the lure of fictional replication as an attempt to overcome it. In Living History he presents a series of portraits of members of military re-enactment societies. To each of these dramas, focused on a particular war, Hamon carefully applies the photographic texture of the time – sepia for World War I, black and white and hand tinted for World War II and colour for Vietnam. Hamon’s photographs are displayed in close proximity to sculptures and found taxidermized animals, bringing into question the aims behind processes such as photography, taxidermy and historical re-enactment, which lay claim to being faithful reproductions of the real. Featured in the exhibition are also two video works. In Bletchley Park, Hamon stages a disconcertingly ordinary scene in a place widely described in espionage tales, while Invasion playfully appropriates the black and white version and 1970s remake of the cult film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
For the last decade, Dutch artist Edwin Zwakman has been constructing sprawling models of imagined places on the floor of his studio. These models are then lit, photographed and printed in large format, resulting in images which are momentarily exchangeable with real architectures and urban scenes. A pile of boxes, a kitchen table covered in the remnants of breakfast, aerial views of backyards in a suburban street; they all appear familiar enough. Zwakman employs mostly simple materials to render these places and with exacting patience he describes one house at a time, adding a barbeque, a washing line, a patch of lawn to a continuously expanding model. Half map, half topography, these models function as valid descriptions of the world’s surface, while not aspiring to fool the viewer. They are recognisable as real places as well as simulations, leading us to consider the standardisation of the spaces in which we live and the layering of social and individual aspirations within them.
Neil Hamon (b. 1975, Jersey) received a MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London in 2002. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, including Six Feet Under (Bern/Dresden, 2006/07), When We Build Let Us Think That We Build Forever (Baltic, Newcastle, 2007) and Think with the Senses - Feel with the Mind (curated by Robert Storr, 52nd Venice Biennale, 2007)
Edwin Zwakman (b. 1969, The Hague) graduated from Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, Rotterdam in 1993 and has since been featured in numerous exhibitions including L’Esprit du Nord (Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, 2006), Spectacular City (Rotterdam/Düsseldorf, 2007) and Fake but Accurate (Gimpel Fils, London, 2005 and Huis Marseille, Amsterdam, 2008).
Replications is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Belfast City Council.