05 April 2012

Zoe Leonard at Camden Arts Centre

Zoe Leonard's show, Observation Point, seems very sparse, but I found it conceptually satisfying. One room has monochrome photos of the sun (photographers do not recommend shooting into the sun, and Leonard is a photographer). They are unframed and each is held on the wall by a substantial nail at each corner.
I was also intrigued by the "hidden extras" in the room with "Survey" -- the bits of tape left on the foamcore that, covered with sheets of glassine, tops the table on which the 6266 postcards are displayed, and the holes in the wall from the display in the previous exhibition, which Leonard chose to leave rather than have restored and painted out. Subtle additions to the visual experience.

The differing heights of the piles of postcards, and the cards themselves, from all eras, was so satisfying I rather missed the point - fortunately a review of the show makes it clear: " Survey (2009) is a table featuring stacks of 6266 postcards of the Niagara Falls, each one plotted as though on a map, so that the postcards are placed in the relative position to that of the photographer who took the photograph. This treatment of a clich├ęd subject powerfully reminds us that perspective outstrips nearly all else when it comes to seeing and understanding the world, and that others’ perspectives and images have a radical influence on our own. " The use of postcards brought to mind Susan Hiller's Rough Seas - a rather different use of found postcards!

The show is on till 24 June - do go on a sunny day if you can, as the third room is a camera obscura. You can lounge in a bean bag and watch traffic go by - upside down. It's yet another way to change your way of looking at things.

Zoe Leonard's Analogue project (1998-2007) consists of photographs charting the disappearance of handmade signage from city streets, tracking the disappearance of photographic film’s unique language at the onset of the digital age. Some of this work was seen in London in the Deutsche Bourse photographic prize show last year.
From Analogue; image from here

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