15 January - 7 February 2015
Commune.1 is delighted to present Luke Kaplan’s first solo show at the gallery. ‘Refugium’ consists of analogue and digital photographs, a sculptural element and a video. Kaplan’s black and white film photography, processed and printed by hand, represents a meditative enquiry into the translated qualities of light. The process of natural light falling on the subject followed by darkroom manipulated light on silver paper is slowed down and interrupted, opening up a new moment of possibility.
Kaplan’s practice concerns itself with landscape and history, in particular how people, through interaction and through time, form an identity with the natural world in which they move. In ‘Refugium’, Kaplan imagines this relationship existing within a particular homeless man who unceasingly walked the roads of the Eastern and Western Cape. By following (and losing) the trail of this wanderer, by re-enacting and imagining his perception of things, Kaplan’s process is both performative and deeply empathetic. This method ultimately attempts to bridge the gap between photographer and subject, and in this case, a persistent class and comfort divide in Southern Africa, a place where histories, identities, and narratives are deeply connected to the natural landscape and, yet, where people live radically different lives. Seeking a shared visceral encounter with the world and by invoking certain archetypal orientations, Kaplan’s work fills these spaces with connection, discovery and a strong sense of presence:
“Since I quickly lost the actual person I was investigating in the wide expanse of the country, I began to explore who he was by attempting to embody him – I walked backroads and rural stretches of highway through the South African landscape, sleeping out under bushes or rock shelters, wearing worn and tattered clothing, and eating the meagre rations each day allowed. I imagined this restless wanderer as something between an archetypal wildman or madman, and a desert prophet, and I described the world as I imagined it might appear to him. I photographed into the dusk, the liminal space between day and night, between him and me, and between the external world and a misty, internal landscape.” (Kaplan, 2014)
Luke Kaplan studied Fine Art at Rhodes University (Grahamstown) and was awarded a distinction for his Master’s show in 2014. He took part in ‘Scintilla: An Alchemy show’ at Commune.1 in 2014. Kaplan lives and works in Cape Town.