At Zabludowicz Collection, artists test the parameters between authenticity and artifice

Installation view at at the Zabludowicz Collection in London
Installation view of ‘You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred’, a group photography exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection in London.
(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

Fact or fiction? That’s the main question posed by a curious new exhibition of contemporary photography at the Zabludowicz Collection in London. On view until 9 July, ‘You Are Looking At Something That Never Occurred’ draws from the gallery’s archive to present seminal works by 14 artists who use the camera to test the parameters between past and present, authenticity and artifice.

The timing is apt. Today, as the instant image becomes so familiar it verges on mundane, the show provides a considered meditation on the innovative ‘slow’ methods of picture-making that artists such as Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Lucas Blalock and Thomas Ruff have employed to engage, mystify and surprise us.

Techniques – some analogue, others digital – vary dramatically throughout. For example, Sherman’s ground-breaking Untitled Film Still #41 (1979), which opens the show and depicts a staged set-up of the artist as a glamorous actress in a striped bathing suit, displays a grainy texture, achieved by accident when the top came off the can of film she was developing. While Lucas Blalock, who has several riveting works on display (see: Gaba with Fans, 2012) has developed a unique process that fuses analogue photography, collage and Photoshop.

Truth Study Centre Table

‘Truth Study Centre Table XVIII’, by Wolfgang Tillmans

(Image credit: Wolfgang Tillmans)

High notes include the UK premiere of Soft Film (2016), a 16mm film shot on video by young New York-based talent Sara Cwynar. Combining found footage with items found on eBay, a pastel-hued studio set-up and fragments of text, the artist explores how objects of desire can lose or gain attraction over time. ‘Her work is a fascinating reflection on the powerful remnants of the photographic process,’ reflects the exhibition’s curator Paul Luckraft. ‘I admire her sensitive attention to the life of images and objects over time.’

The way in which Anne Collier skilfully re-photographs existing images of American pop culture from the 1960s, 70s and 80s using a large-format plate camera is similarly intriguing. It’s as easy to lose yourself in her large-scale Positive (California) (2016), as it is decoding the hidden poems of Natalie Czech that are hung on the adjacent wall.

Yet, however diverse, all of these works demand a closer look. They urge the viewer to slow down, take stock and re-evaluate their certainty – a valuable quality in this day and age.

Portraits by Thomas Ruff

Portraits by Thomas Ruff.

(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

Zabludowicz Collection

NM in stripes, by Lucas Blalock, 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Ramiken Crucible, New York

(Image credit: The artist and Ramiken Crucible)

Still Creek Vancouver Winter 2003

Still Creek Vancouver Winter 2003, by Jeff Wall, 2003.

(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

Corinthian Column (Plastic Cups), 2014 Islamic Dome

From left, Corinthian Column (Plastic Cups), 2014; Islamic Dome (Plastic Cups), 2014; and Women, 2015, all by Sara Cwynar; and Four Women Looking in the Same Direction, by Richard Prince.

(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

Zabludowicz Collection

Corinthian Column (Plastic Cups), by Sara Cwynar, 2014

(Image credit: Sara Cwynar)

Tree on Keystone

From left, Tree on Keystone, 2011; Gaba with Fans, 2012; untitled study, 2011; and xxxxxxx, 2011, all by Lucas Blalock.

(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

Soft Film, by Sara Cwynar

Soft Film, by Sara Cwynar, 2016.

(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

Four Women Looking in the Same Direction in photo frame

Four Women Looking in the Same Direction; and Untitled (Cowboy), both by Richard Prince.

(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

Zabludowicz Collection

A hidden poem by Robert Lax, by Natalie Czech, 2010

(Image credit: Natalie Czech)

Photo frames on wall

From left, Woman (Daybed), 2014; Women (055, 065), 2012; Sculpture (Zebrawood), 2010; and Egyptian Mau, 2010, all by Elad Lassry. 

(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

Installation view of exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection in London

Installation view of ‘You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred’, a group photography exhibition at the Zabludowicz Collection in London. 

(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

Three hidden poems by Velimir Khlebnikov, 2011, by Natalie Czech

Three hidden poems by Velimir Khlebnikov, 2011, by Natalie Czech

(Image credit: Thierry Bal)

INFORMATION

‘You Are Looking At Something That Never Occurred’ is on view until 9 July. For more information, visit the Zabludowicz Collection website (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

Zabludowicz Collection
176 Prince of Wales Rd
London NW5 3PT

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