SIGHTLINES AND PASTORAL MOMENTS
The third solo exhibition of new artworks by the British photographer Helen Sear is on until 26 October at the Klompching Gallery in New York. Two new series will be presented as the gallery’s opening exhibition for the 2012–2013 season, accompanied by the US launch of the monograph charting a more than 25-year practice.
“Sightlines and Pastoral Monuments continue Sear’s commitment to conceptual applications, integration of photographic process, historical reference and visual allure. Sightlines is an exquisite set of 21 photographs, partially concerned with ideas about the unique object and the copy. The images themselves depict a portrait of a woman whose face is obscured by a mass-produced, but hand-painted figurine of a bird. Sear alters the final photograph through the application of several layers of white primer—gesso.
“The images, then, are also about photographing paint and painting photographs. This convergence of the unique and/or the copy is further implicated by notions of her concern with identity.obscuring the face of the woman, Sear interrupts the gaze of both sitter and observer. The spectator of the photograph is unable to know the sitter’s identity, in a similar way that she/he can’t know the identity of the person(s) who hand-painted the bird. These small-scale photographs confound our expectations in the most delightful way, and are a testimony to the conceptual and visual strength of Sear’s practice.
“Showing alongside Sightlines, is Pastoral Monuments, which expands an underlying theme of the real and the re-presentation of it. In this case, Sear references the historical photographs of the botanist and photographer, Mary Dillwyn, whose photographs from the early 1850’s depicted wild flowers arranged in domestic crockery. Sear has sourced more than 80 wild flowers from the same Welsh field and photographed them in jugs and vases from around the world.
“Through handling the resulting prints and rephotographing them—evidencing this handling—Sear believes that “the flowers and their containers become connected in a material sense, across the surface of the image.” Further, we see in the photographs familiar ideas associated with flowers—youth, beauty and mortality. In some ways, these photographs become monuments to flowers.” Press release.