Secure the shadow ere the substance fade. An appeal against impermanence. An attempt to counteract and conquer entropy.
This phrase is a photographic advertising cliché — an oft-quoted expression used to promote photography and its practitioners from as early as the 1840s. It was enlisted as a slogan by various photographic studios and was printed on the back of numerous cartes de visite.
A carte de visite is a descendent of the calling card; a photograph (often an albumen print) affixed to card and with an average size of 10 x 6.4 cm. Popular between 1860 and the 1890s, cartes de visite were often exchanged during social engagements. They were small enough to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.
They were a leave-behind; a forget-me-not, a personalized souvenir, a memento (mori).
Secure the shadow ere the substance fade.
To hold on.
Blind hope. But can entropy ever be overcome? A photograph is fragile too. What kind of security does it offer? Shadows are, after all, immaterial. Insecure.
In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella The Double, first published in 1846, a low-level government clerk meets his doppelgänger. The double proceeds to encroach on all facets of the clerk’s life. The novella ends in an eclipse. The double bleeds into the clerk’s world and commandeers his social and professional personas.
The clerk is taken off to an asylum. The shadow consumes the substance.
A shadow existing independently of its substance. That is the reality of photographic genesis.
But what happens when the shadow has nothing to hold on to – nothing to eclipse? What happens when we embrace absence and impermanence? When blind hope opens its eyes. When we stop equating the photograph with formaldehyde and welcome the transient and the invisible.
A calling card for a nameless and faceless subject.
This exhibition gravitates towards the absent and invisible. It is not an appeal against impermanence but to impermanence. It asks that the transient and the ephemeral show their face – assert themselves so they can be caught in the act of disappearance. Here objects (subjects) are missing. What is left behind? What kind of memento is this?
Featuring: Vivian Cooper Smith, Izabela Pluta & Simone Rosenbauer
12 – 29 June 2014
Opening night 12 June 2014
Shop 10, 24-30 Springfield Ave
Potts Point, Sydney 2011
Vivian Cooper Smith is represented by Galerie pompom, Sydney
Izabela Pluta is represented by Galerie pompom, Sydney and Dianne Tanzer, Melbourne
Simone Rosenbauer is represented by Laurence Miller Gallery, New York