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London shows the nature photography work by Catalan and Hasselblad Award-winner, Fontcuberta

Barcelona-born photographer Joan Fontcuberta presents his first major exhibition in the UK, ‘Stranger than Fiction’, which represents an overview of 30 years of his artistic work on nature photography. It opened on Wednesday at London’s Science Museum's Media Space and will be running until the 9th of November. The six-part collection of pictures and artefacts aims to examine the presumed reliability of photography and shake the viewer's consciousness by mixing fact with fiction, science with art, and persuasive storytelling with a deep questioning. After London, the exhibition will travel to the National Media Museum in Bradford (northern England) from the 19th of November 2014 to the 8th of February 2015.

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24 July 2014 09:31 PM

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ACN

London (CNA).- Barcelona-born artist, professor and photographer Joan Fontcuberta presents his first major exhibition in the UK, ‘Stranger than Fiction’, which was launched on Wednesday at London’s Science Museum’s Media Space. In 2013 Fontcuberta won the Hasselblad International Award, considered the Photography Nobel Prize. The eye-opening collection of mischievous and intriguing images and artefacts featuring six conceptually independent narratives – Fauna, Herbarium, Orogenesis, Constellations, Sirens and Karelia – represents an overview of 30 years of Fontcuberta’s artistic work with nature photography. The Catalan artist plays on the viewer's trust in the reliability of photography by mixing fact with fiction, science with art and persuasive storytelling with a deep questioning. "All my work consists of creating traps and providing images that shake the viewer's consciousness", admits Fontcuberta to CNA. The conceptual artist’s "discoveries" include mermaid fossils, dolphin-surfing monks, mysterious constellations and winged monkeys. The exhibition will run till the 9th of November 2014, before transferring to the National Media Museum in Bradford (northern England) from the 19th of November 2014 to the 8th of February 2015.


'Stranger than Fiction' is the second exhibition hosted by the 'Media Space', a photography and art gallery in the London´s Science Museum which launched last November with the inaugural exhibition ´Only in England´, and showcases the photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr. Fontcuberta admits that it is "a real honor and pleasure" to have the opportunity to present his exhibition in London, but also a "big responsibility" since it was launched after the exhibition of photographers that he "deeply" admires.

Questioning the perceptions and representations of reality, part of Fontcuberta´s vocation

Fontcuberta explains that the exhibition is "an overview of 30 years" of his artistic work, "from the 80s to more recent productions" that subtly questions the use of pictures as evidence and reveals "how photography is often a trap that is supposed to be a direct perception of reality". ´Stranger than Fiction´ manifests itself as an unconventional exploration of mythology – challenging disciplines that claim authority to represent reality– botany, media and religion by blurring the line between fact and fiction.

The exhibition highlights include Fontcuberta´s research with Pere Formiguera, which focused on the work of an "obscure German naturalist" and "neo-Darwinist" who worked on the animals´ evolutionary "anomalies and exceptions". The artist presents rhetoric as a natural history museum with staged photographs with sculptural works resembling archaeological excavations and fake skeletons, x-rays, fascinating images of mermaid fossils and mysterious fauna, sound recordings of animals, animals in formaldehyde and handwritten records of the expeditions. Fontcuberta especially noted that these conceptual elements create a "dialogue" with contents that are being exhibited in other buildings of the same institution (the Science Museum and the Museum of Natural Science).

"I like the public to become aware of a number of prejudices affecting the perception of an exhibition or a museum, or of reading a newspaper or magazine. Basically, there is never a passive reception of this information, our mechanisms are always conditioned by a number of contexts, prior to culture, interests, authority or our own discursive space from which this information comes," said Joan Fontcuberta.

The Catalan photographer remarks that he has chosen photography as a mode of artistic expression because "contrary to what many people think, it is not a window to the world." According to him, "every time we press the shutter button of a camera" we create a look influenced by "techno-scientific culture of the nineteenth century" which is "obsessed with truth, memory, filing and fragmentation."

Presented in collaboration with the Government of Catalonia and co-curated by Greg Hobson, Curator of Photographs at the National Media Museum in Bradford, the exhibition 'Stranger than Fiction' will run in London from Wednesday to the 9th of November 2014, before transferring to the National Media Museum in Bradford from the 19th of November 2014 to the 8th of February 2015.

International recognition

Fontcuberta is the first Spaniard to win the Hasselblad International Award in Photography, which is considered to be the Photography Nobel Prize and whose previous recipients include Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Fontcuberta's works are held in the permanent collections of many museums worldwide, such as Art Institute of Chicago; Musée National d’Art Moderne (National Museum of Modern Art) / Centre Pompidou in Paris; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts) in Buenos Aires and others.

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  • Joan Fontcuberta in front of some of his pictures shown in London (by L. Pous)

  • Joan Fontcuberta in front of some of his pictures shown in London (by L. Pous)