darren almond (b. 1971, wigan, uk) at whitecube, bermondsey
white cube, south galleries, bermondsey. 22 january to 13 april 2014
This exhibition included photographs from the ‘Fullmoon’ and ‘Present Form’ series as well as a group of small-scale bronze sculptures.
The ‘Fullmoon’ series of photographs, which have taken Almond to every continent over a period of 13 years, are taken under the light of a full moon using long exposure, enabling details undetectable to the human eye to be revealed. For works in this show he has traveled to Patagonia, Tasmania, Cape Verde and the Outer Hebrides. While depicting disparate lands, the works all embody Almond’s interest in time, both as an actual, lived experience as well as a cultural and historical construct. They acknowledge his deep connection to particular landscapes, and map the artist’s personal interest in its geology, myth and history.
The Patagonia pictures employ classical compositions – referencing Romantic landscape painting – and are bathed in a supernatural light, the result of the lack of airborne pollution in this pristine, almost untouched land. Almond’s tripartite photograph of the surface of the Perito Moreno Glacier is compressed to the point of abstraction: emphasising both the painterly quality of its celadon-coloured ice as well as its formidably dense formation and scale. Attesting to geological decay, the blue colour signifies its prehistoric date and is only revealed at the moment the ice breaks, a common occurrence due to man’s impact on the environment.
In the large-scale, expansive photographs of Cape Verde, rough black stones emerge from the Atlantic Ocean. The rocks are solidified lava, and this seemingly diabolic, remote landscape, that bears the evidence of its own formation so vividly, played a key role in Darwin’s book ‘On the Origin of the Species’ (1859). Almond’s interest in what the landscape reveals is echoed in his ‘Present Form’ photographs of standing stones on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides installed at the centre of the exhibition. These photographs of individual upright stones, wrought out of the oldest known rocks in the British Isles, ravaged and partially covered with vegetation, form part of a stone circle dating from 3,000 BC, and are thought to have been used as an astronomical observatory to measure 18.6-year moon cycles. Almond has photographed the stones as evidence of our primal need to measure and quantify the passing of time.
Shown alongside the stones are six pairs of bronze sculptures which act as displaced measures since each one represents the relative weight of one of the astronauts that walked on the moon. Contrasting with the expansive scale of the photographs, these small hand-polished columns of bronze are filled with lead and engraved with the astronaut’s initials, identifying the individual. Like the standing stones, these works represent a sculptural connection between man and moon, and a method of mapping visible and invisible space. A meditation on the space between the visible and invisible, the landscape and the skies, is explored in Laurentia (2012) a work in which a quotation by Nan Shepherd is written over 11 train-plates. The title refers to both the ancient supercontinent and the small indigo blossom, this work interweaves the relationships between the macro and the micro, between nature and man, between the infinite and the finite.
Born in 1971 in Wigan, United Kingdom, Darren Almond lives and works in London. He graduated from Winchester School of Art in 1993 and held his first solo exhibition in 1995. His solo exhibitions include Art Tower Mito (2013); Frac Haute-Normandie, Rouen and FRAC Auvergne, Clermont Ferrand (2011); Parasol Unit (2008); SITE Santa Fe (2007); Museum Folkwang, Essen (2006); K21, Düsseldorf (2005); Kunsthalle Zürich (2001); Tate Britain (2001); De Appel, Amsterdam (2001) and The Renaissance Society, Chicago (1999). He has participated in group exhibitions including ‘Sensation’ (1997-1999); Berlin Biennale (2001); Venice Biennale (2003); The Busan Biennale (2004); The Turner Prize, Tate Britain (2005); Moscow Biennale (2007); and the Tate Triennial, Tate Britain (2009).