Composed around a series of photographic works that challenge modes of documentary and storytelling, Mutable, Multiple is an exhibition that explores how narrative, history, memory and myth can be recalibrated as a way of coming to terms with complex and changing realities.
A story of stories, the exhibition features six artists – Max Pinckers, Edgar Martins, Stefanie Moshammer, Amani Willett, Anne Golaz and Virginie Rebetez – all of whom make use of the narrative potential of photography to engage with their subjects, yet without adopting straightforward strategies.
Max Pinckers – Margins of Excess (2018)
In Margins of Excess Max Pinckers narrates the cases of six individuals who momentarily achieved nationwide notoriety in the United States press due to their attempts to realise a dream or ambition, but only to be presented as frauds or charlatans. Combining reality and fiction, Margins of Excess questions and explores highly-idiosyncratic versions of reality during the current ‘post truth’ era, in the process squaring up to documentary’s truth-claims by inserting self-reflection actively within the work.
Edgar Martins – What Photography has in Common with an Empty Vase (2018-19)
What Photography has in Common with an Empty Vase is developed in collaboration with Grain Projects and HM Prison Birmingham (the largest category prison in the West Midlands), its inmates, their families and other local organisations. It reflects on the uncertainty of dealing with the absence of a loved one, brought on by enforced separation, while addressing ontological questions of the status of the photograph when questions of visibility, ethics, aesthetics and documentation intersect.
Stefanie Moshammer – I Can Be Her (2014-18)
Receiving an unsolicited letter from a stranger serves as the starting point for Stefanie Moshammer’s exploration of love and delusion in I Can Be Her. The letter provokes an onslaught of fantasy and paranoia as the artist seeks out evidence and traces of the man by way or reproducing images inspired by her suitor’s words in an attempt to conjure up his presence through subjectivity, illusion and speculation – blurred frames of realism.
Amani Willett – The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer (2017)
The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer explores the human desire to escape and find peaceful solitude, away from the pressures and constraints of modern existence. Inspired by the tale of a mysterious hermit, who lived in the woods of New Hampshire in the late 1700s, Amani Willett somnambulates this distant past to discover the legend still lurking in the wilderness. Moving beyond the document and record, The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer is an atmospheric and impressionistic echo of this story examining notions of history, family, folklore and geography that operates at the limits of representation.
Virginie Rebetez – Out of the Blue (2016)
Out of the Blue focuses on the unsolved disappearance of Suzanne Gloria Lyall who went missing on March 2nd 1998, aged 19. Combining material from different sources, including family archives, age-processed composites, police reports and psychics’ drawings, as well as photographs by Virginie Rebetez of the teenager’s belongings and clothing Out of the Blue is a multi-layered narrative collage that opens up an immersive space for new links and enquiry into a subject that now eludes visualisation – an image ultimately beyond the frame.
Anne Golaz – Corbeau Vol 2: Finir comme prévu (to end as expected) (2018)
Corbeau Vol 2: Finir comme prévu (to end as expected) is an epilogue to the main body of work published in 2017, a complex construction made of diverse visual materials and texts resulting from the collaboration with author and screenwriter Antoine Jaccoud. Comprising a video piece and an experimental, unbound book, the work documents the drama and demise of the farm where the Swiss artist Anne Golaz grew up, evoking themes of time, life, decay, fate and death as depicted through the machinations of memory and tableau.
Brought together in the context of Mutable, Multiple the projects occupy a hybrid documentary space between image and information, fiction and evidence, where associations of interviews, literature, press material, news footage, archival interventions and staged photography are the new norm.
By creating degrees of freedom within their multi-layered and subjective approaches the six artists become wholly immersed in process, all the while examining the limits of representation and inserting self-reflection actively within their work.
Mutable, Multiple brings to bear issues of entrapment and disappearance, fantasy and escape, exile and longing. The various ways in which each project deals with the fractured, disharmonious lives of their subjects are made apparent, allowing the viewer to meditate on the situations in which such individuals achieve ‘in/visibility’ in the world.
Curator Tim Clark will be giving a tour of the exhibition on Friday 15th March.
FORMAT Festival Director Louise Fedotov-Clements will be giving a tour of the exhibition on Wednesday 3rd April.
Curated by Louise Fedotov-Clements and Tim Clark.