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The Wonders of the Visible World

Preview: Wednesday 26 October 6:00 - 8:00pm
Exhibition dates: 27 October 2011 - 4 February 2012

Ulla von Brandenburg, Mark Wallinger, Yves Klein, Camillo Paravicini, Michael Crowe, Katja Mayer & Peter Chadwick, Chris Cornish, Samantha Clark, Georgina Mascolo, Susanne Ludwig, Victoria Jenkins, Natasha Caruana, Hannes Ribarits, Anton Corbijn, Tom Pope, Peter Watkins and Tereza Zelenkova, Michelle Hannah, Martin Kellett, Sophie Helas-Kwo, Jason Dee

"Let us be witness to the unrepresentable".  Jean-Francois Lyotard, 'The Postmodern Condition'
 
"Vision is the art of seeing the invisible." Jonathan Swift

 

    Michael Crowe, from the series 'The Back of My Eyes', 2011

'The Wonders of the Visible World' brings together 21 international artists who use photography and video to explore the relationship between the visible and the invisible worlds. The artists explore the ongoing potency of myth and illusion in the visual arts - finding that the world we imagine we know is far less secure than we might first believe. As all of the artists use lens-based media, they all capture physical phenomena that defy belief, or defy description.

Here, the camera lens is a tool that allows us to see precisely what is not usually visible to the naked eye, and to have faith in the unimaginable. Many of the artists explore what might be described as imaginative archetypes. We become witnesses to the end of the world; to hair-raising experiments in new branches of the physical sciences; to our souls made into symbols; and to feats of levitation, self-combustion, magnetism and transubstantiation. We are asked what the limits of our beliefs are, and what the limits of our capacity to suspend disbelief are.

       Katja Mayer & Peter Chadwick. From the photographic series 'Days Lost', 2008-11

Ulla von Brandenburg's photograph 'Geist' pictures a family group of improbably cheerful ghosts, caught in the act of posing for a portrait for posterity.

                      Ulla von Brandenburg 'Geister (Ghosts)' 2010

Martin Kellett presents a copy of a well-known tabloid newspaper. On page three we read, "the Sun newspaper is using occult practices to further their political aims. "Through the juxtaposition of erotic image and leading political text, the elements to harness sex magick are set up.... The public is being manipulated into taking part in daily nationwide rituals."                     Martin Kellett 'Three is the Magick Number (The Lesser Work of Sol)' 2011
Jason Dee's video 'Medium' reveals the strange metamorphoses that can occur when time is slowed down in film. A well-dressed man, seemingly either asleep or dead, opens his mouth to allow churning ectoplasm to escape. In Dee's world, matter is not what is seems: gas acts as liquid or solid; the living seem inanimate; and the dead become alive again.

                 Jason Dee 'Medium' 2010

Camillo Paravicini's photographic series 'Somnambulist with Wall' documents the alarming phenomenon of extreme sleepwalking. Shot entirely in moonlight to avoid waking the subjects, Paravicini's images record what the human brain is capable of doing to us as much as making us do, entirely without our conscious will.

                            Camillo Paravicini 'Somnabulist and Wall' 2010

Chris Cornish's works transport us to a parallel dimension in which illusion and reality are impossible to separate. His video 'The Adventure and the Resolution' presents a world entirely composed of smoke and mirrors, in which matter seems to self-generate, and defies the known laws of physics.

                  Chris Cornish 'The Adventure and the Resolution' 2010

Samantha Clark's video animation 'Levitation' presents a visionary, apocalyptic scenario, recalling the end of days from the Book of Revelations: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him."

                Samantha Clark 'Levitation' 2005

Georgina Mascolo's photographic series 'The Phenomenon Treatise' examines the unexplained occurrences at a former Army medical college on Millbank, where strange events from levitation to magnetism have been recorded.

                            Georgina Mascolo from the series 'Phenomenon Treatise III - Magnetism' 2009

Tom Pope's videos present documentation of unlikely and absurd performances which aim at destroying the concept of time. In one, a professional archer appears to shoot arrows directly at Pope's camera lens.                               Tom Pope 'Blinded by Amor' 2011
Susanne Ludwig's series of video work 'Feasibility Fantasies' present improbable events she has observed that seem to echo Caspar David Friedrich paintings. In one, a medieval church drives by on a low-loader; in a second, a Swiss abbey floats in mid-air above a seemingly endless forest.

                  Susanne Ludwig from the series 'Feasibility Fantasies': '750 Years Passing' 2007- 8

Victoria Jenkins's series of photographs 'Images from the Institute of Esoteric Research' present the results of quasi-scientific experiments that are investigations into our capacity to suspend disbelief.

                 Victoria Jenkins 'Images from the Institute of Esoteric Research: Oomancy' 2010

Natasha Caruana's photograph 'Herald Angel' documents the strange tradition of Georgian and early Victorian ships' figureheads that depicted the harbingers of the apocalypse.

                 Natasha Caruana 'Searching for a Figurehead' 2010

Hannes Ribarits' video work 'The Void' presents us with an endless sequence of gnomic utterances that relate to or are drawn from the belief systems of every major world religion: we are offered irreconcilable propositions about this world and the next that we must choose between. 

                 Hannes Ribarits 'The Void' 2008

Mark Wallinger's video work 'The Magic of Things' presents found footage from the TV series 'Bewitched', in which every scene of witchcraft-inspired magic follows in sequence, creating a taxonomy of archetypes.

                 Mark Wallinger 'The Magic of Things' 2010

Michelle Hannah's video 'Boleskine' explores the myth surrounding the occultist Aleister Crowley, seemingly presenting footage of malevolent spirits entering and exploring Crowley's home.

                 Michelle Hannah 'Boleskine' 2010

Sophie Helas-Kwo's photographs document strange occult graffiti found in America's cities. 'God is laughing...' one statement announces.                  Sophie Helas-Kwo 'God is Laughing' 2010
Tereza Zelenkova and Peter Watkins' monochrome photographs often feature bleak or mysterious landscapes which are suggestive. Watkins and Zelenkova's images are populated by alarming occurences and occult symbols. Their new series of work, shown here for the first time, gives us access to see a network of caves in the Czech republic which it is believed was once the site of the the largest number of ritual sacrifices in Europe.                                  Tereza Zelenkova 'Untitled' 2011
Yves Klein's 'Leap into the Void' echoes the artist proclaimation: "We shall thus become aerial men. We shall know the forces that pull us upwards to the heavens, to space."
Anton Corbijn's photograph of a baroque tombstone embodies the pre-modern attitude to death, which is lost to a post-Enlightenment world: Death here grins wildly, expressing a gleeful, insatiable joy in his work.
Katja Mayer & Peter Chadwick's series of images 'Days Lost' reveal a series of unidentified, disused buildings - temples or places of worship - that point towards a sense of loss, or desire for transcendence in nature. 
Michael Crowe's series of photographs presents images of his own optic nerve: something, which we know exists, but which we ordinarily could never see. Crowe allows us to see where the world meets the brain.