David Fathi, Sjoerd Knibbeler, Jochen Lempert, August Strindberg - 1 September to 14 October 2017
Exhibition Preview Thursday 31 August 7-9pm
Observations takes as its starting point Swedish playwright and philosopher August Strindberg’s early photographic experiments from 1894, the ‘Celestographs’. In these ‘photographs’, Strindberg placed sensitized photographic plates outside in an attempt to gain a visual record of the night sky. Over time, an image emerged on the plates resembling the star strewn skies, with mottled patches and swirls of blues, browns, greens and golds. In actuality they were formed from the chemical process of the metal plates degrading due to being exposed over long periods of time to the air. Rather than the universe revealing itself through the spectacle of the night sky as would have been perceived by viewers at the time, the Celestographs represent the irrepressible process of entropy and decay. The powerful conceptual readings of these works set the stage for a series of works by contemporary photographers David Fathi, Sjoerd Knibbeler and Jochen Lempert, whose work, in a variety of ways seeks to observe and record the natural world around us.
David Fathi's series 'Wolfgang' presents the tale of one of the founders of quantum physics, Wolfgang Ernst Pauli, nicknamed the 'Conscience of Physics'. Legend says that when Pauli entered a room, experiments would fail and machinery would break down, something that his colleagues began to jokingly refer to as 'The Pauli Effect'. In this playful body of work, photographer and engineer Fathi creates a semi-fiction working with and manipulating images from the CERN photo archive, capturing the essence of Pauli's presence through scenes of experiments, accidents, levitation, teleportation and spontaneous appearances.
Sjoerd Knibbeler employs photography as a means to visualise, often invisible, natural phenomena such as air, wind, flight and space. Knibbeler carries out fragile, ephemeral constructions and experiments both in his studio and on site, resulting in series' of otherworldly images where it is often difficult to tell if what we see is in fact real. Through the materials he uses and the conditions he visualises, he explores the paradoxical relationship between the still, two-dimensional character of photography, and his often transparent, moving, voluminous subjects.
Jochen Lempert has worked with photography since the early 1990's, with his background as a biologist playing a critical role in his application of the medium. Lempert turns his scientific gaze upon the world around him, nature and creatures. His analogue black and white prints present a compelling, complex yet incomplete encyclopaedia of morphological studies of plants and animals, highlighting natural patterns and movement.
Thursday 31 August, 7-9pm: Exhibition Preview
Friday 1 September, 1pm: Artist Talk, Sjoerd Knibbeler
Friday 1 September - Saturday 14 October: Free Education Tours, please contact Hannah Watson at 02890230965 to arrange a booking
Friday 22 September, 11am-10pm: Culture Night Belfast
Friday 22 September, 9pm-10pm: Musical performance by Liam McCartan composed in response to Observations
Saturday 14 October, 2pm: Artist Talk, David Fathi
Observations is generously supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council. We would also like to thank the National Library of Sweden for kindly providing image files of the 'Celestographs' by August Strindberg.