‘I used to breakdance outside Snappy Snaps in legwarmers' – Stephen Gill's exhausted farewell to photography

Asia's Tech News Daily

At the age of nine, Stephen Gill was already experimenting with double exposures and, by the time he was 12, he had created several photographic collages. In one surrealist-style self-portrait, his torso is a cauliflower over which is draped a camera. Intriguingly, his other hand holds a broom, an early metaphor perhaps for the way this photographer’s mind works – scooping up seemingly random ideas and turning them into images that surprise and disorient.

These precociously realised images – alongside a series made by his father in 1978, which shows his grandfather practising yoga – are an intriguing prelude to Coming Up for Air, an extensive retrospective of Gill’s work at the Arnolfini Gallery in his home town of Bristol. Comprising 25 series made between 1996 and 2021, the show attests to his creative restlessness.

Over two floors of the gallery, the prints are accompanied by a wealth of attendant material, from audio recordings to vitrines full of ephemera, maquettes, beautifully produced photobooks (Gill self-publishes under the Nobody imprint) and often exotic raw materials. One display includes a camera that was “dismantled by ravens’’, having been placed in a wood to record their presence via motion sensors. Another contains an arrangement of small bones from his series Journey Inside a Fish, in which microscopic images of the skin, guts and flesh of a sea trout have been magnified to resemble fantastical landscapes.

In his schooldays, Gill’s imagination was so active and his inattention so acute that he was not allowed to sit next to a window lest his mind wander outside the classroom. Back then, he attended “special lessons” and it was only in 2017 that he was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It came, he says, as a huge relief given how burnt out he felt by then because of his relentless compulsion to make more work.

As a teenager in Bristol, Gill was drawn to the nascent homegrown hip-hop scene that produced Massive Attack, Tricky et al – “I used to breakdance in legwarmers outside Snappy Snaps” – but was also “obsessed with microscopes and the mysteries of pond life”. In a way, the exhibition possesses the energy of the breakdancer and the nerdy inventiveness of the scientist. It is also a journey into the mind of someone for whom photography was a form of immersive, even therapeutic, self-expression.

“Even though I feel I have exhausted photography, I am also so grateful to it,” he says, intimating that this survey show, which was four years in the making, may be his last. “Photography is how I articulated myself, responded to the world around me, and got rid of my excess energy.”

The earliest series here is also the most uncharacteristic: a selection of black and white photographs he took in Poland between 1996 and 1998. With their monochrome tones and quiet observational style, which nod to masters of the form including Robert Frank and Sergio Larrain, they are the closest the show gets to straight documentary. “The images say more about me desperately wanting to be a photographer than they do about Poland,” says Gill. Though placed at the start of this exhibition, they mark the end of his brief embrace of traditional photography. “After that,” he adds, “I had to dismantle everything I had learned and begin all over again.”

His breakthrough series, Hackney Wick (2003-2005), sets the tone for what will follow: determinedly lo-fi but intensely evocative images of the messy sprawl of a Sunday morning flea market in east London. Since swept away in the frantic redevelopment of the area in the lead-up to the London Olympics of 2012, the market’s hustle and bustle drew Gill there every week for two years. The faded colour tones are the result of shooting on a cheap plastic camera bought from a stallholder, but they perfectly suit the subject matter. “I was stepping back and letting the subject take precedence,” says Gill of his unorthodox approach. He wanted, above all, “to find a way of evoking the spirit and feel of a place”.

That impulse underpins the following series, Hackney Flowers (2004-2007), for which he collected wild plants, seeds and berries from the area and placed them over photographs he had taken of the streets and people. He then re-photographed these strange, layered creations, some of which featured prints that had been buried for a time in the ground to evince a sense of organic decay. If Gill’s approach can seem extreme, the results are always strangely compelling. His photographs often seem low-key even in their subversion but they repay close attention and, in grids on the wall, acquire a cumulative power.

In Talking to Ants (2009-2013), he placed objects, insects and dirt from the local area inside the actual mechanism of his camera before shooting on the streets of east London. The results, printed relatively large, are disorienting: stranded woodlice floating in a pale blue sky; leaves and soil seeming to drift past as if on the wind. The title, incidentally, came from a chance encounter with an old primary school friend, who introduced himself to Gill and said: “I remember you in the playground – are you still talking to ants?”

There are traces of that childhood otherness throughout the exhibition, as well as the sense of an artist totally immersed in an interior world of the imagination. His approach undergoes a radical shift after his relocation to rural Sweden in 2013. There, amid an elemental landscape and in close proximity to raw nature, he retreated even further from what in literary terms would be called the author’s intention. “I thought, ‘Who am I to impose my vision on nature?’ Instead, I wanted nature to shape and guide the work.”

For his series Night Procession, which took three years to complete, the images of nocturnal woodland creatures were created manually and by motion-sensitive cameras Gill positioned in the undergrowth. “I would go out into the woods as darkness fell and think, ‘If I was a deer, where would I drink from?’” The results are spectral glimpses of a secret, nocturnal world of activity that exists unseen alongside our human realm: a fox sipping from a stream, an opaque silhouette of a poised deer, the feral, bristling presence of a looming wild boar which, he says, sent him fleeing into the woods in panic.

In another recent series, The Pillar, the snatched portraits of birds of prey – perching, preening, landing on and taking off from an upright wooden stake – are of a different order of wildness. Captured on a motion-sensitive digital camera, the files were turned into negatives and printed on silver bromide paper. A selection, arranged in a line around a room in the gallery, are a testament to the power of a single inspired idea. But they are also much more than that, as evinced in a video loop of the entire series that unfolds to a sombre soundtrack of repeated cello notes played by Gill’s five-year-old daughter. By stepping back even further and allowing the camera to engage directly and viscerally with the subject without his active involvement, Gill allows us to see these creatures in all their feral and unsettling otherness.

Coming Up for Air is a show so brimming with invention and subversion that I have barely scratched the surface here. And, despite his compulsive work rate over the last 25 years or more, it is a calm, quietly playful and yet always engaging experience. “Ironically, the only place I found any calm was when I was working,” he says. If this does after all turn out to be Gill’s exhausted farewell to the medium, photography will be a poorer, less mischievous place.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Australia politics live update: Scott Morrison announces investigation into allegations against Alan Tudge; Greg Hunt to retire

LIVE – Updated at 07:38 Follow all the day’s news. What we learned: Thursday, 2 December 07:38 With that – we will leave it for the evening. What a year, ... Read more »

Between pomp and punk: German military bids Angela Merkel farewell

© Fabrizio Bensch, Reuters With a hit by the “godmother of punk” Nina Hagen, Germany’s military saluted a visibly moved Angela Merkel during a ceremonial farewell Thursday, just a week ... Read more »

Mike Pence says he'll never see ‘eye to eye' with Trump about 2020 election but says he ‘did the right thing'

© AP El video de seguridad muestra al vicepresidente Mike Pence siendo evacuado cuando los alborotadores violan el Capitolio – AP Former vice-president Mike Pence is sticking by his decision ... Read more »

Nervtag scientist ‘would not feel safe' at Christmas party over Covid fears

© PA Archive Mistletoe (Aaron Chown/PA) An influential scientist has warned that he would not feel safe going to a Christmas party this year as Boris Johnson insisted there was ... Read more »

The biggest thing out of Miami Art Week is 10-year-old child prodigy Andres Valencia

Child prodigy Andres Valencia is the talk of Miami Art Week, after selling works to the likes of Sofia Vergara (left). NY Post photo composite It’s not many fourth-graders who ... Read more »

Teen survivor of Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy returns home

A Wisconsin teenager who was seriously injured in the deadly Christmas parade attack has been sent home — and faces a long recovery. Erick Tiegs, 16, was marching with the ... Read more »

UK government's risk planning is weak and secretive, says Lords report

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Assessment and planning by the government relating to risks facing the UK are deficient and “veiled in secrecy”, a report has found. ... Read more »

Google delays return to US offices past January 10 amid uncertainty over the Omicron COVID-19 variant

© Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images Google is pushing back the return to offices past January 10, 2022. Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images Google has told US employees ... Read more »

Staff absences having ‘massive impact' on pupils in England say head teachers

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Teacher absences are the biggest barrier to children recovering the learning lost during the pandemic, according to head teachers in England, as ... Read more »

Covid live: 10 more Omicron cases in UK amid 53,945 new infections; German ‘lockdown' for unvaccinated

© Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Pedestrians wear masks as they walk past Christmas decorations in London’s Knightbridge. LIVE – Updated at 00:04 UK reports 53,945 new infections, and has identified 10 ... Read more »

I'm A Celeb's Matty Lee says fellow diver Tom Daley 'wouldn't survive' camp

I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! star Matty Lee has revealed that he doesn’t think Tom Daley would be able to hack the show. The 23-year-old British diver ... Read more »

Ghislaine Maxwell 'had girls driven to Epstein's mansion'

© Provided by The Telegraph The girls were allegedly taken to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion Ghislaine Maxwell told Jeffrey Epstein’s driver to collect girls he believed to be underage and ... Read more »

DCCC tweets misleading chart congratulating Biden for gas prices dropping 2 cents a gallon

© Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images President Joe Biden driving a Ford electric truck in Dearborn, Mich. Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images The DCCC, the House Democrats’ campaign arm, tweeted ... Read more »

Australia live news update: Labor sets 2030 emissions target of 43%; Victoria records 1,188 new Covid cases and 11 deaths; 337 cases in NSW

LIVE – Updated at 00:01 Follow all the day’s developments.   00:01 Calla Wahlquist Alywarre woman Pat Anderson has stepped down from her position of chair of the Lowitja Institute ... Read more »

Publicans outraged as Varadkar says hospitality sector is ‘taking one for the team'

© Provided by Extra.ie Pub owners were furious after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil the hospitality and events industry are ‘taking one for the team’. Cancellations and cutbacks have grown in Irish pubs ... Read more »

Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Housekeeper drove accuser ‘Jane' to Epstein's Palm Beach mansion aged 14, court hears

© AFP via Getty Images Ghislaine Maxwell entering court flanked by two US Marshalls on 2 December – AFP via Getty Images Jeffrey Epstein’s former housekeeper testified that the first ... Read more »

Veteran Labour MP and Corbyn critic Margaret Hodge to stand down

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Getty Images Margaret Hodge, the veteran Labour MP and former chair of the public accounts committee, has announced she will not stand again for ... Read more »

Where to find Dripstone Caves in Minecraft

© Provided by GamePur Dripstone blocks are a cool new block in Minecraft that will grow Pointed Dripstone in the form of stalactites and stalagmites from them if they have ... Read more »

Leading NBFCs post loan uptick in November

Leading non-banking finance companies have reported gaining traction with the bouncing back of the economy even as consumer demand is yet to recover to its potential. Mahindra & Mahindra Financial ... Read more »

Westlife has all ingredients to reach top deck in QSR space

ET Intelligence Group: Westlife Development, which operates McDonald’s chain of restaurants in the western and the southern regions of India, has chalked out an aggressive expansion strategy to benefit from ... Read more »

Bourses can't take over defaulting brokers' accounts, rules SAT

Mumbai: The Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has ruled that stock exchanges have no powers to take control of the bank accounts of brokers in the event of default. The verdict ... Read more »

L&T stock to get rerated on capex recovery: Jefferies

Mumbai: Capital goods and engineering major Larsen & Toubro is on a rerating path especially with capital expenditure showing recovery trends, said Jefferies. The brokerage, which has maintained a buy ... Read more »

Price hike rollback, rising input costs dim outlook for cement

Mumbai: A sudden rollback of price increases in November due to low demand and the competition watchdog’s likely scrutiny continue to weigh on cement stocks even as higher petcoke and ... Read more »

Manhunt ends: suspect arrested at South Augusta apartment complex

Dec. 2—The Edgefield County Sheriff's office has apprehended the suspect who was the subject of a five-day manhunt. Police arrested Trevonta Randell Langford without incident Thursday, according to Sheriff Jody ... Read more »

No charges issued against unnamed Racine County deputy who shot at gas station gunman

A Pilot Travel Center, 13712 Northwestern Ave., Franksville, is seen Thursday, July 15, 2021. The gas station is located just off Interstate 94 in rural Racine County. A Hartland man ... Read more »

Ammon Bundy to Idaho court: Campaigning should count as community service

Far-right activist Ammon Bundy believes his voluntary Idaho gubernatorial campaign stops satisfy his court-mandated community service connected to a trespassing conviction in July. Aaron Welling, the Bundy campaign’s treasurer, wrote ... Read more »

Driver accused of hitting Bremerton neighbor with car during confrontation

A 42-year-old man is accused of using his car to hit a man who confronted him about being parked on a neighbor's property Tuesday, then fleeing police and crashing his ... Read more »

CNN sees ratings spike for Chris Cuomo's show – after his suspension

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was indefinitely suspended. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File The anemic ratings for Chris Cuomo’s CNN show shot up — after he disappeared on suspension. The total number of ... Read more »

Knicks' RJ Barrett misses Bulls clash with non-Covid illness

The illness that sent RJ Barrett to the locker room in the second quarter of the Knicks’ loss Tuesday night at Brooklyn also kept him sidelined Thursday night.  Barrett, the ... Read more »

NPA's head of Investigating Directorate Hermione Cronje resigns

© YouTube screengrab. FILE: Hermione Cronje. JOHANNESBURG – Head of the NPA’s head of Investigating Directorate Hermione Cronje has resigned. National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi has formally recommend ... Read more »

Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City is a checklist of horror movie cliches

RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY (15) 107mins ★☆☆☆☆ WHEN a movie calls itself “The Final Chapter”, that is as absolute as a “last ever” Elton John tour. Five years ... Read more »

Watch Unsinkable Tesla Model 3 Perform In Deep Water

© InsideEVs Tesla Model 3 water (source: Wu Wa) Someone converted a Tesla Model 3 into a motorboat? Here is quite an unusual sight. It’s an electric car driver that ... Read more »

Peruvian authorities to question Castillo as impeachment threat looms

© Reuters/Sebastian Castaneda FILE PHOTO: Peru’s Pedro Castillo gestures during a debate in Arequipa By Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian prosecutors said on Thursday they will ... Read more »

French crepe cafe French Fold opens second outlet in Orchard, pre-opening slots fully booked

© Provided by Mothership French crepe cafe French Fold is opening their second outlet at Palais Renaissance in Orchard. The specialty cafe by French cafe brand Merci Marcel opened their ... Read more »

Looks Like The Steam Deck Might Get Some Competition

© Photo: Qualcomm An image of the handheld device for the Snapdragon G3x. Five months after Valve announced the Steam Deck, a new challenger enters the handheld console market. The ... Read more »

Mark Hoppus announced his cancer battle by accident: 'The brain fog is so bad'

© Bang Showbiz Mark Hoppus on stage in 2017 Mark Hoppus didn’t mean to publicly announce his cancer battle. The Blink-182 rocker confirmed he was facing stage 4 diffuse large ... Read more »

Risk of reinfection with omicron three times higher than previous variants, study finds

© Bloomberg Covid-19 cases in South Africa are rising dramatically, with experts concerned that the new omicron variant is spreading fast – Bloomberg The risk of reinfection from the omicron ... Read more »

Most vulnerable to be offered fourth Covid jab

© Getty Images From Friday, those over 40 will be able to book appointments as long as they had their last dose more than three months ago Jersey’s most vulnerable ... Read more »

Crowd Cheers During US Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Large crowds gathered in Washington to watch the Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony, on the evening of December 1. In footage filmed by Candice Buchanan, crowds can be heard chanting ... Read more »

Epstein housekeeper recalls Ghislaine Maxwell bringing Prince Andrew home to Florida mansion

The girls were allegedly taken to Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion Juan Alessi, who worked for Epstein for over a decade, yesterday told a New York court of how he would ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic