A new show "Non|Fiction" at Viewfinder Gallery in Brixton has brought together 5 emerging photographers who each explores for themselves the interface between the factual and the narrative or between the imaginary and the possible.
For Jonathan Illingworth this divide emerges during an attempt to record the quotidian of a donkey sanctuary and quickly diverts attention away to a exploration of self. Though striving to concentrate on the animals the eye is more quickly drawn to the out-of-focus elements where contrary blotches of colour first bring the attention out through the line structure of chain-link fencing and grasses before arriving at the more pressing reality of a car's accumulation of clutter and rubbish.
Gavin Mecaniques establishes a sinister demi-monde populated in small unspoken dramas by players in animal masks and suited limbs. Unreal lighting spills from open doors onto an night-time urban roofscape to hint at dark deeds by a rabbit bizarrely dressed in a fur coat over an argyle knit, an antlered deer sits uneasily on a rough bed. From a high vantage point we are made witnesses of some crime, real or imagined: revealed in the headlights of a waiting car a hare is dragging away the corpse of a bear for disposal.
Rhiannon Adam continues to press the last drops of developer from long out of date Polaroid stock. She embraces and welcomes the hazard of each shot, the randomness of distribution of the chemicals spread over the sheet and the certainty that sand or other detritus from the scene will be preserved in the print with whatever chemical record the diffusion transfer process may on this occasion permit. The images now hark back to 19th century uncertainties of flare and decay. Each shoot becomes a foray into what may or may not become resolved into a permanent record, mediated by factors of the temperature and the storage history of the medium.
For Mark Denton a search of his personal biography is revealed through staging half remembered scenes of childhood. An aunt is seated in the greenhouse, frozen in the moment as the light fades. Brother and sister re-enact some drama of adolescent sibling rivalry, mother and father stand apart in the garage to reveal unresolved tension and pain in the empty nest that was a family home. The scenes portrayed are those of memory: the chance is perhaps that their past motivation was misunderstood at the time. The symbolic values of brooms are deployed to demonstrate the need for change in these otherwise bleak prospects of sterile lives.
Fiona Harvey challenges the space allotted to her at Viewfinder with three large images which record the distribution of sight line as she moves herself and camera through space in some balletic moment. Happily, for these images being hung out of line is to break up their serial nature and to opens a way to see them as a painter might, constructing an image on the film through the brush of the lens. The impossibility of recreating these images exactly forms a cutting tool to separate the evidential use of photography from the delight of expression in movement.
The show, curated by Kathleen Brey has to a very great extent fulfilled on the promise of its title. There are playful and thoughtful strands forming in these photographers' work, together with realisation of a maturing practice and an acceptance of the accidental nature of existence. Kathleen Brey is to be congratulated in collecting these strands of work and bringing this show together.
"Non|Fiction" is at Viewfinder Gallery 3rd through 20th March.
Viewfinder Photographic Gallery
52 Brixton Village
London SW9 8PS