TAMPERED EVIDENCE This catalogue accompanies the exhibition Tampered Evidence by Alexandra Pace. It is produced as a limited edition of 100 numbered copies.
Dream #14 From the series Dreams 38 x 28 cm Silver Gelatin Print
Dream #13 From the series Dreams 38 x 28 cm Silver Gelatin Print
#1 From the series The Places I... 127 x 100 cm C-Type Print
A JOURNEY IN TIME IN THREE INSTALLMENTS THE PLACES I… Memory is one of the most essential faculties we possess. It sanctions our capacity to remember and to recognize. Without memory such capabilities are rendered ephemeral and lose their significance. Memory is never a simple process of storage (of events or facts) in order to negate their forgetting and therefore their complete as if they never were-ness. In reality, we frequently ask ourselves if we can be totally sure of memory’s accuracy of re-call and eventual re-collection. Memory, even to the sharpest and most capacious of minds, can at times be so evasive that the process of retrieval of the same events or facts, let alone their finer details, becomes an elusive and slippery eventuality. Moreover, the accurate picturing of what is being remembered can fall hostage to the interpretation (through writing or reciting) of the event or fact. Alexandra Pace circumvents this conundrum through taking personal action in order to decimate elements of chance and establish personal truth. She does this through the action of revisiting (place) and recapturing (pictorial verity) to act as testimony of a particular happening, a site for a personal memory. In the exhibition’s first installment, The Places I… series based on reviving particular happenings in place-time, the viewer is presented with a series of landscapes, images without pretence and devoid of any attempt at prettification. The artist attempts to restore the memory of (her) basic human acts, such as sitting, sleeping and having sex, through revisiting places she has been to before and which hosted the said actions in an act of forced resuscitation of consciousness through re-experience. This body of work seems to be reconciliatory, affronting a past to shoulder the realities of the present. It reveals a numbness by the artist to the memory revived through the matter-of-factness of the images; photographic landscapes that have not been burdened in any way with layers of intervention or processes of artistic action in order to create a particular visual arrangement or to be read as metaphors or mnemonics. They are what they represent, pictures of places. The artist has also consciously tried to avoid any framing that is conditioned by aesthetics; in fact, one feels that she has fought hard to create snapshots rather than photographs of both time and place, through working on breathing a somewhat air of indifference which pervades the series. Such a seemingly desultory perspective results from the artist’s inability, voluntary or otherwise, to resurrect her past experiences of place through the engagement of any one of the senses. One wonders if this somewhat sterile façade is intended to prohibit the revival of experience, with the image acting as a self-imposed defensive mechanism; a dividing wall between the artist and her memories rather than enabler or commemorator of past experience.
If this is the case, Alexandra is fundamentally playing with the spirit of evocation, using the impression of the place to negate impact, a suppressor rather than the customary enabler of memories. She deliberately shifts onus through elevating the photograph to become the real keeper of memory, with its aesthetic of truth acting as valiant and inviolable membrane. This intentional hampering of a place’s duende imbues the work with an aura of abstention. The photographs negate Sontag’s concept of photographic seeing and the application of extraordinary vision, or better the act of violating ordinary vision in order to renew the work with new shocks, whether of subject matter or technique through its very restriction of such action. The neutering of the photographic eye bathes the body of work with a fascination for the everyday and an enthusiasm for the vernacular. This ordinary rather than extraordinary vision that Alexandra proposes looks critically at the place’s core embodiment and promotes its verity as an aesthetic category. Time stands still. The photographs have an air of timelessness where the places seem to hang in perennial suspension as if waiting for the artist’s eventual return. Time’s arrow seems to have morphed into a never-ending loop, an uncanny operation of Dorian Grayness that harbours temporality and agelessness, where each image resembles the object of echoed reflection, as if caught between two opposite mirrors.
TIME REMAPPED Time Remapped is also about time and memory. The work reconsiders five second slices of (cult) movie time in an exercise meant to trigger the re-membering, and further re-bonding of the cinematic moment, where memory acts as indispensible glue to hold together the newly interpreted visual and aural narratives. The images take on the visual semblance of a photographer’s light table, where rolls of slide film are immaculately splayed for examination, and where time takes on a spatial dimension which could be read like a text, left to right, top to bottom. This deconstruction of film image and projection time is reconstructed into a new visual semblance and is reattached to the whole film’s original sound. This places the viewer into a new context which strays away from the cinematic condition and nudges the viewer’s memory to create a novel audiovisual experience. This work extends the artist’s concern with past memories, as she revisits the cult films, which, similar to the landscapes in The Places I…, have given birth to her specific memories, impressions which even in this work are never revealed by Alexandra. The artist’s intervention on these film clips renders the body of work into a homogeneous aesthetic, films as different apart as Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 Space Odyssey; Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill take on a seemingly equal visual makeup, where every second of film time is represented by twenty-four consecutive still frames, and where scene
2001 Space Odyssey in 1673 frames From the series Time Remapped 190 x 127 cm C-Type Print
#2 From the series The Places I... 100 x 100 cm C-Type Print
changes can easily be distinguished through overall changes in colour. The visual structure of this body of work takes us back to Edweard Muybridge’s pioneering research in motion study and his invention of the zoopraxiscope, a method of projecting animated versions of his photographs as short moving sequences, anticipating subsequent developments in the history of cinema. Alexandra Pace’s intention is quite the opposite, in that on a micro level, she is making us realize the power of a film’s still image when it is turned into and presented as a photograph; and on a macro level, the translation of filmic time into two-dimensional space enables the whole five seconds of the film to be read in one single instant, as one experiences the first impression of a photograph. The film’s audio track relayed on headphones further distances the viewer from the cinematic experiences through creating a tension between the actual time of the clip and the heightening sensation of time passing as one tries to reconcile the two realities of time through the abridgement of the film’s image and the audio track running in real time. The visual affinity of the work is also perhaps closer to that of graphic design than to fine arts. At face value, the lines of film stills resemble lines of text in preliminary form or rough stage. Graphic designers use stripes of colour which vary in strength and weight to represent the impression one gets when looking at a body of text. This act of translation of the film to text, closes the production circle of script to film in an act that recycles the film back to its original calligraphy. This closure burdens us with the task of reuniting two text pieces, one in visual and the other in aural form, and mediate their aggregate through our own memory of the original film.
ENNUI The second installment of the exhibition deals with issues relating to contemporary culture through its various layers of subtlety. The coupling of such seemingly disparate elements as the fashion catwalk loop and T.S. Eliot reciting his masterwork The Waste Land pushes the viewer into a reality brought about by ambiguous association. The ten second clip filmed at the London Fashion Weekend is divested of its accompanying ambient music to be replaced by a uniformity of voice reciting a work that abounds in reference to classic literature from various global cultures, many of which are more than a little obscure; a text that is not always easy to comprehend. Through the poem’s constantly shifting voices of different speakers, T.S. Eliot seems to be making reference to the decline of Western culture through highlighting the cultural divide of modern society, with The Waste Land acting as this intellectual rift; a no man’s land which divides society into the intellectuals and the others. In this poem, Eliot is somehow haughtily snobbing modern man and his disdain for anything worthwhile, like great art or spirituality. Seemingly, Eliot highlights this heedlessness as the main reason why many cannot make anything out of such a great work of literature as The Waste Land. This is of course an overtly pretentious statement which is however backed by the reality that the work is about
Ennui Digital projection + audio
Edward Scissorhands in 1243 frames From the series Time Remapped 190 x 127 cm C-Type Print
the decline of western culture and the beauty that this culture once possessed in the classical period. In a Europe traumatized by World War 1, with an upsurge of general disenchantment and pessimism on one hand and the proliferation of the new spirit of modernism on the other, The Waste Land was soon referred to as “the work that best expressed the mood of postwar generation disillusioned by the loss of ideals and faith in progress.”1 Perhaps Eliot intended The Waste Land as the eulogy that high culture deserved, and, in a spirit of despair at the condition of modern society, he intended it to be hard to read. Alexandra’s careful twinning of these two performances seems to highlight this symbolic rift in enlightenment and extend its grounds to contemporary society. The nauseating repetition of such a small portion of the models’ catwalk performance hijacks the viewer’s attention from the occasion’s main objective – that of displaying high fashion’s artifacts – to highlight the overall mise en scène of the occasion, reiterating the fashion industry’s form through the characteristic saunter of what culture has termed as models, prototypes of today’s male and female appearance. The audio further stretches this metaphoric breach by pointing us away from this concept of appearance and makes us simultaneously concentrate on two contrasting cultural forms – on one hand, the demanding verse, and on the other, what many consider the hollow vanity of the fashion show. This work is steeped in nihilism as it attempts to recreate Eliot’s rehabilitation of a system of beliefs in a sensibility of a higher order within the reality of today’s frivolity. Through the meaninglessness of the dull catwalk routines, Ennui flagrantly testifies to Alexandra’s disillusions of the industry.
DREAMS The third installment of the exhibition presents us with a body of work based on visual and material intervention in the dark room. These photograms take the principles of photography right back to its origins of image making through painting with light. The objects selected to interfere with the calmness of the natural landscape and the prepossession of the male model are mostly aggressive by their own nature and seem to disrupt the lyrical vein of the work. A handgun, a knife, hooks, nails and other devices in silhouette detract the viewer’s attention and rupture the bond between the observer and the image in a deliberate exercise of visual sabotage. Dreams is also a body of work that makes reference to the process of remembering. The powerful simplicity of the objects in silhouette appropriate memory and obliterate the process of recall of secondary detail through holding hostage the submissive image. In these works, the products of light challenge the product of lens in a skirmish for visual significance, a conflict which is lost hands down by the latter. This work also revisits the subject of the male nude, another favourite 1. Dupree, Robert S. (Ed.) “From Homer to Eliot: Intertextuality and the Epic.” An Intertextual Anthology. Dallas, Texas: University of Dallas, 1994, p. 7.
TE Dream #3 From the series Dreams 38 x 28 cm Silver Gelatin Print
subject by the artist, although this time the intention is somewhat different than that of earlier work. Nails and guns puncture the model’s composure and upset the image’s visual serenity, creating x-ray like images that either sit within or outline the contours of the physique. Similar to the way Ennui uses a work from the 1920s, Dreams references modern art production from the same period albeit for a rather different motive. There is a significant difference in what the artist is trying to achieve in these images and to what artists such as Christian Schad attempted in his Schadographs and Man Ray in his Rayographs in the early 1900s. While both Schad and Man Ray explore visual language, tracing or documenting existing shape or form through light in search of ethereality, Alexandra makes no bones about the fact that the elements she includes are perceived as extraneous and have no other function than to rupture the dreamlike narrative of the hosting image. The objects act very much like a distressing wooden or metal splinter lodged into a hand or a finger, the presence of which is felt through constant discomfort.
RECONCILING THE THREE INSTALLMENTS These four bodies of work attest to a questioning vein which although forking out into capillaries of seemingly varied creative production, is in reality manifested through closely interlinked strands which draw from the same surging well of artistic concerns. Alexandra’s work does not depend on the found moment or object but, on the other hand, is the consequential visual construct of concept. Photography in her case is primarily a tool at the service of her vision. It is through this uncompromising lens that one best relates to the totality of her oeuvre.
Vince Briffa is a transmedia artist and researcher with works shown in major international museums and galleries, including the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999. He is Head of Department of Digital Arts at the University of Malta.
#6 From the series The Places I... 127 x 100 cm C-Type Print
Dream #1 From the series Dreams 38 x 28 cm Silver Gelatin Print
Dream #2 From the series Dreams 38 x 28 cm Silver Gelatin Print
Kill Bill in 1310 frames From the series Time Remapped 190 x 127 cm C-Type Print
#4 From the series The Places I... 127 x 100 cm C-Type Print
From the series Dreams Silver Gelatin Prints
Dream #10 From the series Dreams 38 x 28 cm Silver Gelatin Print
#3 From the series The Places I... 127 x 100 cm C-Type Print
Vertigo in 1530 frames From the series Time Remapped 190 x 127 cm C-Type Print
#5 From the series The Places I... 127 x 100 cm C-Type Print
#8 From the series The Places I... 127 x 100 cm C-Type Print
#7 From the series The Places I... 127 x 100 cm C-Type Print
BLITZ ST LUCY STR, VLT
Alexandra Pace (b. 1977, Malta) started her career in photography through her curiosity as an observer of the world around her. After successfully navigating both the art world and commercial photography in Malta for over ten years, she moved to London, where she is currently studying for a Masters Degree at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. Tampered Evidence is Alexandraâ€™s fifth solo exhibition. She has also exhibited at Rencontres dâ€™Arles in Arles, France, Nuit Blanche in Paris and Circle de Bellas Artes in Madrid. Her work has been featured in a number of publications including the bid book that recently earned Malta the title of Capital of Culture 2018. Alexandra currently lives and works between Malta and London.
TAMPERED EVIDENCE Alexandra Pace Published in 2013 ÂŠ Alexandra Pace All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any other storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing. www.alexandrapace.com firstname.lastname@example.org