The Koppel Project Exchange is pleased to present WHAT ON EARTH, a group show curated by Ellen Taylor in collaboration with Hannah Fletcher from the London Alternative Photography Collective (LAPC). WHAT ON EARTH brings together a selection of works exploring how the environmental and sustainability crisis we face today can be both encountered and addressed through non-representational and medium-forward forms.
Most photographic responses to the climate crisis take the path of documentation, as there is indeed a lot to document. Photography as an art form, however, has always been more than documentarian, and has always had an impact that derives much of its force from factors other than the subject in the frame. WHAT ON EARTH aims to highlight the work of artists who explore this through non-representational and material forms.
‘The materiality of the photograph takes two broad and interrelated forms. First, it is the plasticity of the image itself, its chemistry, the paper it is printed on, the toning, the resulting surface variations. Such technical and physical choices in making photographs are seldom random (Edwards, E. and Hard, J. 2004).
There have been many theoretical debates regarding the photograph’s status as a three-dimensional object, and craft, as a result of advances in post-and-during-capture digital manipulation technology. Through the creation of ‘concrete photography’ this show aims to explore this whilst also demonstrating how the materiality of a photograph can, though the image making process, be both influenced by our culture’s environment and act as a visual representation. In the context of the environmental crisis we face in today’s society, these exhibiting artists use elements from our rapidly changing environment to inform their image making process, both physically and conceptually.
The artists featured in WHAT ON EARTH use a range of methods and materials derived from the traditional photographic process but developing it to a more tangible and materialistic one, investigating how a combination of visual, audio, tactile, olfactory stimuli can enhance our connection to our environment. This approach to working with materials, and the respect we gain for our environment through the process of touch, is a philosophy that should not be limited to the hand of the artist, but should be normalised within our culture. As it is through this tactility and engagement of the senses that we truly start to understand the earth that we live on and live with.