Emma Geliot's picture

Gouldian Finch from Conjures, 2013 - Catarina Fontoura

The Wish You Were Here season at Ffotogallery s Turner house space brings together groups of artists to explore themes in common. Rory Duckhouse unpicks these themes in his review of the latest exhibition.

The photographer is innately an outsider, looking and capturing what is in front of their lens, shielded by the mechanical apparatus in front of them. The artists in At Home he s a Tourist examine the space in which they exist, looking at the past, present and future. The exhibition presents a selection of work from early career artists in Wales but the scope is international in scale, examining where we are in the world, from the larger reaches of globalism to the innately familiar home environment.

Hoover Grid, Nevada, 2013,, from The Nature of Things - Luke Boland

Luke Boland s expansive images show the systems that control our Western lifestyle of consumption - power grids, oil refineries and shipping docks. These interconnected systems of control shape our way of life in the Western world and have become inextricably linked to our lifestyles. In these detailed images taken across the world, Boland reveals the process of manufacture and export. In our globalised economy our demand for a certain quality of life has created this infrastructure, a structure far larger than we can comprehend, at an almost sublime scale.

In contrast to this large-scale consumption, Catarina Fontoura looks at the basic make-up of the natural world. Using antique natural history slides, she captured the minute details of insects, feathers and minerals (see top image). In these microscopic details she re-calls past histories and rituals that form the basis of our cultural heritage. The juxtaposition of our modern world and ceremonial ritual reveals the scale at which society has changed, from the natural to the highly commercial.

From Illustrated Regional Guides to Scotland and Wales - Freddy Griffiths, 2014

Freddy Griffiths images look closer to home and the relationship between photographic language and landscape. In Illustrated Regional Guides to Scotland and Wales Griffiths uses the original draft layouts of publications designed to introduce foreign visitors to the landscape and communities they might encounter. The wall-based installation interrogates the language of photography and its recurring motifs. Through his re-presentation of these publications, Griffiths works in the gap between representation and meaning. Similar images, phrases and colour swatches re-appear and re-enforce his frustrations with photography. The work shows the inaccuracies inherent within these guides to reveal the failures and deception of photography.

Untitled by Jose Luis Lizalde Del Rio, from Editing My Father, Jorge Lizalde 2014

The use of archival material is carried throughout the exhibition, with Jorge Lizalde and Claire Kern investigating their family history through the use of inherited archival images. In Lizalde s Editing my Father a slide projector slowly ticks over showing familiar landmarks and unknown scenes and vistas taken by Lizalde s father. As the projector refocuses the image, there is a mirroring of Lizalde s process, re-editing this vast archive in the hope of learning something about his late father, as well as his current pre-occupation with photography, learnt as a child during family slideshows.

1982 Slide#4, from Chamboulement, 2013, Claire Kern

Claire Kern s Chamboulement and Inventaire deal with the house fire in her family home in 2009. Central to the installation is an old slide of her pregnant mother, half damaged by fire and water; it stands at a point of transition. The installation mixes archival images with documentary photographs taken just after the fire merging the two events, the fire and its aftermath. Kern set out on a journey to restore the family archive whilst documenting this deeply personal moment.

Inventaire consists of a series of personal photographs, the archetypal family snapshot, usually kept in a drawer or photo album takes on the form of evidence for an insurance claim. Looking past the personal moments, they become evidence of destroyed possessions. This shift in focus asks questions about the value of photography, both personally and in a documentary sense.

The relationship to home and family is also investigated in Sissel Thastum s I Am Here When You Are Here. We are used to photographing our family, usually in happy holiday snaps, but Thastum s images cut through the pretence, visualising that which is left unsaid. The work presents a subtle relationship between the artist, her mother and the landscape of their home in Denmark.

The home, returning and loss are explored in the work of Bartosz Nowicki and Kirill Smalyakov. Both works are autobiographical in nature and deal with returning home, their immediate community and the passing of time.

Upon visits to his hometown of Steszew, Poland, Nowicki takes raw documentary images to create a visual diary of his family and friends. These images explore the intimate relationships and how they have shaped him. Accompanied by a text from his sister who has moved home, it creates a poignant document of moving away from family and friends and the bonds you form.

Although he has lived in the UK for the past 14 years, Kiril Smalyakov has returned to his native Belarus every summer. In Fairytales of Belarus the bright Belarusian summer infuses the images that explore the connection between the artist and his homeland, documenting the shift in his surroundings and relationships.

For these artists living away from their homeland, the exhibition title seems perfectly apt. The boundaries between native and foreigner become blurred as their identity exists between their place of birth and their adopted home.

The artists in At Home He s A Tourist all employ distinctly different modes of working but share common themes in their work. Through a negotiation of subjects such as photographic representation and personal relationships, the work forms connections between seemingly disparate works. These personal visions are articulated and represented to create conversations between the micro and macro, home and abroad, the personal and the private. They negotiate a position between insider and curious observer, revealing an intimate portrayal of their world, and how they see it.

At Home He s A Tourist is at Turner House, Penarth until July 19

Artists in this show: Luke Boland, Catarina Fontoura, Freddy Griffiths, Claire Kern, Jorge Lizalde, Bartosz Nowicki, Kirill Smolyakov, Sissel Thastum

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