London: Uncommon Ground
Uncommon Ground is the title of the group exhibition currently on display at Flower’s Gallery, one of London’s biggest commercial galleries. This ambitious exhibition is hung over two floors, including the newly converted first floor of Flowers East. All photographs on display have a related concern but are drastically different in approach – the photography in Uncommon Ground explores the relationship between images and nature.
Inspired by the work of Keith Arnatt and Gabriel Orozco, the gallery’s curator Chris Littlewood seeks to explore the desire to document human interventions on the environment: whether they are the result of economic and industrial forces or because of the artist’s intervention.
The featured artists in the exhibition, whether the well-established heavyweights, such as Robert Polodori or Nadav Kandar, or the emerging and mid-career photographers such as, WassnikLundgren or Jason Larkin, all work with ‘environment’ in its broadest possible sense. The term ‘environment’ has been interpreted largely from urban and suburban space to natural ecosystems, from domestic interiors to industrial landscapes and even as political arenas and the photographs are taken in locations spanning the globe.
Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, who has made it his life’s work to document the impact humanity has on our planet, is one of the photographers on display. The image featured in Uncommon Ground is from his series on the Three Gorges Dam. This hydroelectric dam, which is under construction in China’s Yangtze River, is one of the world’s largest power stations and is not only a controversial issue around the globe but also a colossal disruption in the landscape.
American photographer Aaron Schuman, has also been documenting the impact human’s had on their environment in the work included in this exhibition. His series Redwoods is an almost topographical documentation of Redwood trees in today's landscapes of Britain. In the 19th century English botanists, seed collectors, and explorers were keen to introduce exotic vegetation to their home land and therefore travelled through North America to bring back ‘exotic’ species of plants, which were able to grow in the British climate. One and a half centuries later, these trees have now grown huge and are awkwardly towering over the essentially bleak and mild British landscape. The monotony of the environment, in which these great and epic trees clearly do not belong, is emphasised by the mute quality of these black and white photographs.
There is also a playful thread running through the exhibition. David Spero’s images from his ‘Ball Photographs’ series, which he begun to create in 2001, create complex and seemingly random constellations in otherwise banal domestic interiors. By placing brightly coloured balls all around, Spero transforms these places into surreal, three-dimensional constellations, which disrupt the viewer’s perception of the depicted scene and allow him or her to experience these spaces anew.
The series ‘Empty Bottles’ created by the Dutch photographic duo WassnikLundgren (Thijs Groot Wassnik and Ruben Lundgren), by contrast, teases out performances of unknowing passers-by who pause to collect and dispose empty bottles, which have been placed there for exactly this purpose by the artists.
There are more than one hundred photographs by 18 artists included in Uncommon Ground, an exhibition, which succeeds in offering its viewers the opportunity to draw new connections within contemporary photography and is definitely well worth a visit – you have got exactly one day left!
Uncommon Ground features works by Peter Ainsworth, Edward Burynsky, Chris Engman, Andrea Galvani, Andy Goldsworthy, Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Nadav Kandar, Jasom Larkin, Alastair Levy, Jaehyo Lee, Tom Lovelace, John Maclean, Robert Polidori, Simon Roberts, Aaron Schuman, Raven Smith, David Spero, WassnikLundgren.
A catalogue accompanies the exhibition, containing a text by the exhibition curator Chris Littlewood.
From July 12th to September 1st 2012
82 Kingston Road
London E28DP - UK