Review – On Landscape

On Landscape #1

Minna Kantonen, Dafna Talmor and Emma Wieslander, with Minna Pöllänen creating a site-specific piece, have come together to create an exhibition that will challenge the traditional representation of landscape, called On Landscape #1. The show was exhibited from 7th-30th March 2014 at Guest Projects, Andrews Road, London.

Landscape is not a genre but a medium…[it is] a natural scene mediated by culture. It is both a represented and presented space, both a signifier and a signified, both a frame and what a frame contains…” – J.W.T. Mitchell, Landscape and Power. The artists have chosen to open their fundraising website (Crowdfunder) with a quote about what a landscape is, to entice the reader.


The exhibition was shown at Guest Projects, which was formulated by Shonibare Studio and gives artistic practitioners the chance to use the facility of a free project space for a month. The Arts Council funded this project and also received help from donators ‘pledging’ money.

The curators had the opportunity to do anything they wanted with this large empty white space. Tables and walls were built by themselves with help from local businesses and friends. They kept quite an industrial feel, which contrasted against the natural aura of the work.

An open call for self-published books (short run or hand-made), which related to the framework of the exhibition, formed a central aspect of the show. This provided “a platform for wider debates around landscape whilst presenting an opportunity for a range of practitioners to showcase their work.” Artlicks.com. Renowned names such as Miranda Gavin (editor of Hotshoe) and Bruno Cheschel were among several members of the selection panel.

Wish You Were Here by Emma Wieslander

Wish You Were Here by Emma Wieslander

Wish You Were Here by Emma Wieslander

Wish You Were Here by Emma Wieslander














Emma Wieslander’s “Wish You Were Here” presents images, which are so very deceiving at a first glance. Having been created upon the idea of illusion, they certainly live up to the concept. When looking in great deal, it becomes apparent that Wieslander has set up one light at different heights, and using just natural lighting has achieved the appearance of the glowing sun. These images are made enjoyable by the trickery within them; grabbing your attention and making you look in great detail.

Constructed Landscapes by Dafna Talmor

Constructed Landscapes by Dafna Talmor

Possibly the most creative section of the show is a range of old negatives, which have been sliced and diced, before being layered together to create a ‘Constructed Landscape’. This work is based around manipulation and photography’s relationship to reality. Although the images are all created from something real, they are imaginary because they have been created and do not actually exist. This work can be seen as a metaphor, representing how land and nature can be destructed.

In order to remove any evidence of location, elements, which are man-made, have been removed. The unwanted parts of the negative are removed using a scalpel; this created something, which was irreversible, compared to using digital manipulation where you could undo the action to get back to the original.

“It is this irreversibility and the slight idiosyncrasies caused whereby the two negatives meet and overlap that I am interested in; how the areas around the incisions flare up, leaking light and creating certain stains around the edges going beyond the frame.” says Dafna Talmor, who created this piece.

Urban Vistas by Minna Kantonen

Urban Vistas by Minna Kantonen

Minna Kantonen explores the connection between urban cities and how we design and bring nature to them; how do we compensate the balance of a city and landscape? She describes the trees which are often planted in these kinds of places as “lollipop” trees, because they are often just a stick trunk with a blob of leaves on top, which makes them look like a lollipop. Kantonen believes that cities are all beginning to look the same. Having shot in cities such as Paris, Berlin, Helsinki and London, she says that it is hard to distinguish which city you are in, as they look so similar. She has presented in an even grid form to represent how uniform this is becoming; trees being planted in the same way around these buildings.

Observatory in New York - Minna Pollanen

Observatory in New York – Minna Pollanen

Pöllänen is well known for creating site-specific pieces, particularly her observatories, in cities such as New York, Montreal and Helsinki. She is often asked to create them in collaboration with other artists and companies.

As well as creating the site-specific piece, Minna Pöllänen also included images from her series “Nature Trail”.

As well as to provide a platform for wider debates around landscape, the show also aims to present a space where thought-provoking discussions can happen. With so many open events for the public to attend, this idea works effectively as when looking at the exhibition and discussing, ideas will bounce from one person to another creating a discussion. The website also plays a key role in the exhibition, as it extends the audience beyond just the physical space of the show. This project has been called #1 as it was a ‘pilot’ for future projects.

With so many sections to one show and so many artists coming together to collaborate, it is hard to feel that each section works perfectly with another. They each have completely focused on different elements within the framework of Landscape, using unique methods to produce their work. By bringing in components such as a site-specific piece, the scope of the exhibition was widened beyond just photography. All being female could be a reason for them choosing to look at landscape and nature.

This is a very thought provoking exhibition and completes the aim which the artists were looking to fulfil.



Curation Project – Sombre

Unfortunately, our group did not communicate through 0ut the project, despite our efforts to contact them. This meant that myself and Emma (a member of our original group) took it upon ourselves to do the project without the rest of the group.

We began by looking for books on portrait photographers, looking for something similar to the images we had previously looked at. I found an image similar to this, by Richard Avedon. The window was almost a filter, it separated the viewer from the model.


We then began looking for portraits of a person which are more similar to this. We found that the images we liked all tended to have a depressing, sombre feel. Sombre was a word which was frequently repeated when we talked about our work, so we felt it was appropriate to name the show Sombre.

We chose to split the images into two sections; in section one it felt as if we were looking in at the models whereas section two it was as if they were looking out the window. We printed our images on an inkjet printer on lustre paper as this was high quality and we felt that the images deserved this good quality. We placed the name of the photographer, image and date below the image in the left corner.

The writing explaining our exhibition is in the middle of the piece because we wanted it to be noticed as it explains why we put the images together and also splits the images up so that there is not too much to look at. The images were all placed at an average eyeline height as we found it looked more uniform and there was no need for them to be at different heights.


Sombre is an exhibition based loosely around the idea of an isolated and lonely yet very narrative portrait. Photographers Jeff Wall, Hannah Starkey, Tom Hunter and Philip Lorca-diCorcia all use narratives in their portraits to portray a lonely story.

Throughout the show each selected photograph depicts an isolated person or couple with very subtle lighting in a very secluded settings, either their ‘own’ home or somewhere with limited access like a female bathroom. As a reader of the show, Sombre wants you to feel as though you are looking in on each situation and this is helped by the camera angle in each photograph as each and every one does not feel invasive, more like it is peering onto the situation through a door or window, yet it still feels as if you were there.

Each of the chosen photographers are well known for their staged portraits which is something Sombre was looking for as it is about how someone who is just acting can get across to the reader those feelings of isolation and the sombre mood, whilst making it feel very realistic for each photograph.

First, photographer Jeff Wall, his portrait ‘Picture for Women 1979’ gives off the impression of isolation in the woman even though she is accompanied. The male character makes her seem as though she is being threatened, her facial expression tells us something is not right yet we are left guessing.

Second, photographer Philip Lorca-diCorcia and ‘Mario, 1978’. The lone figure suggests isolation along with the low lighting.

Third, Tom Hunter and his photograph ‘Woman Reading Possession Order’. Hunter used Baroque style paintings to influence a lot of his photographs using the narratives behind them to almost recreate them to move them into a more modern era. For this photograph, Hunter used Vermeer’s painting ‘Girl Reading Letter’ to stage his portrait.

Finally, Hannah Starkey, who we have selected three images from her Untitled works. Each of these photographs is staged and all have a very low feeling coming from them.


Sombre Exhibition By Emma Pinchen and Tegan Upton

Images: (left to right)

  • 1. Hannah Starkey – Untitled, March 1999
  • 2. Philip Lorca-diCorcia – Mario, 1978
  • 3. Jeff Wall – Picture for Women, 1979
  • 4. Hannah Starkey – Untitled, January 2001
  • 5. Tom Hunter – Woman Reading Possession Order, 1998
  • 6. Hannah Starkey – Untitled, October 1998
Hannah Starkey - Untitled, March 1999

Hannah Starkey – Untitled, March 1999

Philip Lorca diCorcia - Mario, 1978

Philip Lorca diCorcia – Mario, 1978










Hannah Starkey - Untitled, January 2001

Hannah Starkey – Untitled, January 2001

Jeff Wall - Picture for Women, 1979

Jeff Wall – Picture for Women, 1979

Hannah Starkey

Hannah Starkey – Untitled, October 1998

Tom Hunter

Tom Hunter – Woman Reading Possession Order, 1998


Unfortunately, we did not read the brief correctly, as the images should have been from the previous 10 years and we did not do this. However, our tutors felt that the images did fit together well and were given the quality they deserved with the printing.

Our tutors thought that it would have been a better idea to put the numbers below the image and perhaps have a corresponding list separately, further below the images. I have to agree that the way we presented it with the details was perhaps not very professional.

I have a much better understanding of how to curate a show now and enjoyed the challenge of creating a show from scratch.


  • STARKEY, H. KULLMANN, I. JOBEY, L, 2007. Hannah Starkey, Photographs 1997-2007. Gottingen : Steidl
  • HUNTER, T. WIGGINS, C. CHEVALIER, T, 2005. Tom Hunter; Living in hell and other stories. London: National Gallery
  • DUVE, T. PELENC, A. GROYS, B, 1996. Jeff Wall. London: Phaidon Press
  • DICORCIA, P-L, 2003. A Storybook Life. Santa Fe, NM : Twin Palms publishers

My thoughts on suggested blogs from reading list

Horses Think Press has a different homepage format to the other websites from the resource list, as rather than scrolling down to view posts/images, you have to scroll sideways. This instantly gives it individuality and sets it apart from the others. This websites shows and sells artwork/images online and has published “12 Books” by Ofer Wolberger (whose work is currently showing on the homepage).

Screen Shot of Horses Think homepage

Untitled Cereal is a very simplistic and minimal website. To enter an exhibition you simply click on the image, which is far easier to navigate your way around. Only 5 issues have been published so far. Although I like the simplicity of the website, it does not look professional, with hard to read fonts and only half of the page being used.

Screen Shot of Untitled Cereal homepage

A Cup of Pea was my favourite of the blogs I have looked at. It has a professional look and is clear where each blog post starts and finishes. With tags and archives, it’s easy to find other posts and things linked to what you are looking at. The images are of good quality and can be viewed larger by clicking on them. A Cup of Pea is linked to other websites such as Facebook and Twitter and can be recommended on google; being linked in with other websites promotes this blog and reputation.

Screen Shot of Cup of Pea homepage




Taryn Simon Video

Image of Taryn Simon

For the task which we have been given this week, I chose to use a video about Taryn Simon talking about her work “A living man declared dead and other chapters”, which is about charting family bloodlines and their related stories. She travelled the world and it was produced over a four year period (2008-2011). It was shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, before being moved to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

These are my questions and answers to the video.


What was the intention of the work and what type of photography is being explored?

Simon mixed text with portrait photography to create this work. The intention was to create a series of work which charts family bloodlines. The collection maps relationships between chance, blood and other elements of fate.


Did you understand the issues covered/intended to come across from the review?

If I were to visit the exhibition I think that I would understand the issues of the work which are intended to come across because of the three sections the work is split into; the portrait pattern, text panel and footnotes. Taryn Simon explained these sections in great detail which makes it easy to understand.


Is the reviewer’s opinion the most important part of the review or is it the factual and descriptive elements of the review that are most important?

Taryn Simon does not say much about her own opinion of her work; she tends to stay with the factual and descriptive elements of her work, which was what it was all about. I think that this was important as it leaves the viewer to create their own opinion whilst knowing what it is about, whereas so many other works do not give you the background so you are more free to your own interpretation. I think this work is particularly important to know the background story because Simon has added the text panel and footnotes to the images. If this was not necessary to add to the images then she would not have done so. I think that it gives the portraits meaning.


Why was it presented in this way?

The portraits show members of the family arranged in 18 horizontal family trees. They are shot on a neutral, cream background to eliminate environment and context. Some portraits are left empty and this represents the living members of the bloodline who were unable to be photographed. Included in the text panel is the reason for their absence, such as dengue fever, military service, imprisonment and women having not been granted permission to be photographed due to religious and social reasons. The text panel is in list form with corresponding information to go with the portraits. Finally, the footnotes include images representing fragments of stories and the beginning of others.


Image of “A living man declared dead and other chapters” exhibition