Darren Almond / Solo Exhibition
Dec 18, 2009 – Jan 30, 2010
The exhibition includes photography, video and a sculpture which separately and together manifest Almond’s continual interest in time, travelling, remote locations, personal history and collective memory.
Nail to Nail is a trainplate. The title references movement from one point to another and the balancing of endurance when the journey is not about reaching the end, but of taking the next step. The sculpture is from a body of work initiated by Almond in 1997. Concerned with transport, this series is emblematic of Almond’s constant repositioning of his motifs of travel and exploration.
Bearing (2007, 35 min) is a portrait of an Indonesian sulphur miner working the crater of the Ijen volcano near Java Indonesia. A man labours in hell. He is harvesting sulphur from inside the crater of a volcano, breathing in the acid smoke swirling up from the ground. All he has to break up the sulphur is a metal rod. All he has to carry the chunks are two baskets slung from a pole balanced on one shoulder. His only protection is a bit of cloth, which he intermittently stuffs in his mouth to suck air throughDarren Almond walks with him, a camera on his shoulder, which frames the face of the miner. The Indonesian worker’s journey, up the side of the volcano, is filmed in an almost continuous take But Almond’s film isn’t about the gross injustices of life; rather it bears witness to an array of layers in the human make-up.
In conjunction with ‘Bearing’ are bromide photographic prints of the dead forests of Siberia. Almond has spent the past five years travelling to the nickel mines of Norilsk, formerly Norilag, the largest and harshest of Stalin’s Gulags. Today Norilsk is a closed city controlled by the Norilsk Nickel Company. The large-scale photographs depict the dead forests, surviving barely both the extreme climate conditions and toxic mining fumes that have rendered them burnt. The title “Night and Fog” is a reference to Alain Resnais’ documentary film on Auschwitz concentration camp from 1955. One of the first films to be shot in the camp after WWII, Resnais’ camera gazes on the camp’s buildings in silent concentration. Almond turns a similar kind of gaze at the stunted trees, at the gap between the here and now and the history folded in it.
The Fullmoons began in 1999 when Almond followed the paths of romantic painters i.e. Constable, Turner , Casper David Friedrich to remote landscapes. In the dead of night and at fullmoon Almond photographs the landscapes using only the moon’s light to expose the film. Over time the series developed in intent and locality with Almond travelling to Antarctica, Arctic, Renzori Mountain in Uganda, China. The full moon creates a surprisingly bright somewhat ethereal feeling. The remote locations Almond chooses are far and unreachable physically and form an existence removed from what can be experienced.