Zoe Leonard, Camden Arts Centre
Monday 02 April 2012
The world usually rushes at us so quickly – its perfume,
noise and changing weather, the skewing angles of our emotions and thoughts –
that we find it hard to see.
The distancing effects of photography and film, and the way that those media change the way we see the world, are the chief interests of the American artist Zoe Leonard, witnessed in a concise, sensitively judged exhibition at Camden Arts Centre. Despite the fact that Leonard has made several important works, particularly her Analogue project (1998-2007), photographs charting the disappearance of handmade signage from city streets, drawing attention to our disappearance into digital, it’s difficult to believe that this is her first solo exhibition in London.
Leonard’s approach to this show is highly responsive to Camden’s situation and architecture. She has transformed Camden’s gallery 3 (usually notable for its large windows that look onto the street outside) into a camera obscura, a simple, yet always shockingly mind-altering optical device created by making a small hole in the wall of a dark room, which creates a full-colour projection of the world upside down onto the opposite wall. This one-degree of removal from reality – the projection rather than the usual window, as well as the flipping of perspective, allows us to see the street outside as a picture. Why does that road look the way it does? Why is a billboard the biggest thing in the picture, and what are all those people doing out there? The effect is like walking into a room for the first time, noticing its cracks and imperfections, which become slowly invisible with familiarity.
Another of the rooms is filled with black and white unframed images in which Leonard has shot straight into the sun, creating grey dusky frames, like soft voids in the walls, peppered with flare spots and streaks, which all feature a glaring white circle in the centre, the one constant around altering locations and weather conditions. 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 clichéd 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.
31 March – 24 June
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 3 Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' on Antiques Roadshow by Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
- 4 Meet Thea, Norway's 12-year-old child bride
- 5 Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans
Breaking Bad season 6 is still not happening
Downton Abbey review series 5, episode 5: Period drama falls disappointingly flat
Doctor Who, Flatline - review: Clara isn’t half bad as the Time Lord
Alfred Hitchcock's unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened
X Factor 2014 results: Chloe Jasmine and Stephanie Nala sent home
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'