14 January — 03 March, 2011
Nils Olof Hedenskog & Joakim Brolin
Creeping in Circles
Creeping in Circles constitutes a series of images that could be described as performative pieces. Each photograph is the result of a painstaking process. A medium format camera is suspended from a crane.
Skepticism toward the photograph has permeated popular culture
The camera is aimed directly at the ground below, where circular lines are drawn. The lines provide the framework for the performance or ”creeping”. Following the lines, a series of people crawl, with lamps attached their helmets, creating circles of light during a 20 minute exposure.
Creeping in Circles is a collaboration between photographer Joakim Brolin and painter Nils Olof Hedenskog. Of course, there are strong links between photography and painting. These links have to do with seeing. Painting, until Modernism, was interested in the illusionistic representation of objects, bodies, and space. The artist’s ability to render this illusion was an important determining measure of the quality of a painting. This determinate was shattered by photography’s superior ability to quickly and accurately render its subject. Both the mediums of painting and photography share in the experience of the loss of function. For painting the ability to most accurately render its subject, for photography, its authenticity, in fact, in many ways, it is the same dilemma.
Skepticism toward the photograph has permeated popular culture. Any photographic depiction that we sense is remarkable, horrid, or spectacular, is subject to being quickly brushed aside as the result of digital editing. It is difficult to determine any truth in the photographic image, without an accredited source. Therefore, we must ask the question, is the authenticity of the photograph itself lost? In response photographers today, like painters at the turn of the 19th century, are seeking new measures of quality and new modes of expression. Some photographers are pushing photographic imagery further away from the document. Others have resorted to experimenting with the material of the medium itself, hearkening back to its inception.
With this thought in mind, it is of particular relevance to look at this collaborative series between a painter and a photographer. One could say that artists Brolin and Hedenskog represent traditions that have come “full circle” meeting at a point of inexplicable tension, compelling the two artists to reduce the works to their simplest expression. An interest that was already expressed by Brolin as early as 1996 when he created work for his exhibition entitled Leaves. Brolin eliminated the camera, film, and went directly to placing transparent materials from nature directly into an enlarger. Hedenskog’s simplified circle imagery emerged from his painting. Together Brolin and Hedenskog have fused their visual languages to the emulsion of the film. On one level they are reduced ,to the essential elements of a photograph, light, movement, and time. On the other hand the resulting photographic images evoke metaphysical pondering. Creeping in Circles is as much a part of a larger response to the digital revolution as it is a poetic gesture.
-Curator Michelle Marie Roy