13 March - 16 April 2014
Commune.1 is proud to announce Roger Palmer’s exhibition, ‘Sediment’, presenting a series of black and white photographs made in South Africa and Namibia in addition to a temporary wall installation prepared specifically for the gallery.
Through a focus on landscapes as spaces of travel, passage and settlement, the exhibition engages with problems of representation. Silver gelatin photographs represent ordinary sites that reveal unremarkable arrangements of local infrastructure. In two prints, disused railway tracks have been partially obscured by sand or weeds — signs that once indicated the presence of a railway no longer in use. Secondary images in the form of paintings can be seen in other works: a mural of a tropical beach appears to merge with a tree in front of a bar in Rehoboth; a painting of a bay on the wall of a nature reserve in the Eastern Cape includes in its foreground an aloe that is almost indistinguishable from real aloes planted immediately in front of the wall. In these pictures, spaces framed by photography or painting appear to overlap. Dislocated place-names and isolated fragments of language contribute further layers of uncertainty.
A dialogue between photography and painting is continued in Crossing, a temporary wall work using acrylic paint, marker-pen and adhesive vinyl. Crossing is based on a 19th century engraving, an illustration from Randolph Churchill’s Men, Mines and Animals in South Africa (1893), in which two men pause beside a track to observe a train of ox-wagons crossing a broad river bed. The image has been digitally enlarged so that the two figures, now life-size, could also be seen as surrogate viewers of a framed landscape. The picture might recall the time of early pioneer photography, but it is no longer just an illustration of problematic provenance. As a temporary, site-bound work, the erasure of which is assured once the exhibition closes, its silvery surface proposes connections with obsolete photographic processes. The scale and position of Crossing invites viewing on both the lower and upper levels of the gallery, in each case presented in relation to different groups of photographs that frame landscapes through chemically fixed silver deposits. Collectively the exhibition suggests evidence of sediment through its materials of production: analogue photography and mixed media wall installation. Both approaches examine forms of sedimentation according to ways in which South African and Namibian landscapes accommodate and reveal cultural accretions.
Roger Palmer works primarily with landscape photographs, a practice that developed via painting, drawing, printmaking and the re-evaluation of photography in conceptual and land art. Since the early 1970s, Palmer’s work has been exhibited in Europe, North America, Africa and New Zealand. He has worked and exhibited several times in South Africa, most recently ‘Plume’ (Michaelis Gallery, Cape Town/The Premises, Johannesburg (2006/7). Several of his solo publications include works made in Southern Africa: Circulation (Fotohof edition, Salzburg, 2012), Shanty (Aspex Visual Arts Trust, Portsmouth, 2008), Overseas (Fotohof edition, Salzburg, 2004), International Waters (John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, 2001), Remarks on Colour (Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno, 1995) and Precious Metals (Serpentine Gallery, London/ Cambridge Darkroom, 1986). A new book, Macao Macau, with an essay by Tim Simpson, is published by Black Dog, London in February 2014.
Roger Palmer lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He is Emeritus Professor of Fine Art at the University of Leeds.