7th – 10th November 2019 | Booth D02
Huxley-Parlour Gallery, London, are pleased to propose a curated selection of works from acclaimed British photographer, Jem Southam’s series Rockfalls. Southam’s methodical yet poetic approach to his subject has made him one of the most important landscape photographers of the last forty years. Alongside Martin Parr and Paul Graham his work has been instrumental to the development of British colour photography from the 1980s to the present day.
As with his other bodies of work, Southam focuses Rockfalls on particular sites, which he repeatedly visits over an extended period of time. In 2019, two works from the series were purchased by the Victoria & Albert Museum in an important acquisition that demonstrates this series’ political and cultural significance in the present day in relation to land borders and the UK’s position within Europe.
Taken along the South-West coast of England in Devon and Dorset as well as along the Northern coast of France in Normandy, photographs in this series depict the cliffs and rock formations where they meet the Channel. Returning to the same sites, to document them at different times of the day and from alternative perspectives, the series illustrates Southam’s patient observation of the landscape and his drive to not simply document the landscapes he photographs but to understand them. As such, Southam creates visual representations of time, both ecological and historical, by revealing traces of the past that influence and mark depictions of the landscape in the present.
Southam’s contemplative works extend beyond notions of ‘The Sublime’ in the natural landscape to examine the traces of cultural, political, psychological and social references which haunt them. The large-scale works in this series, made using a large format 8 x 10-inch camera, seek to address the geopolitics, histories and systems of knowledge that we impose upon the natural landscape, while at the same time mirroring these notions in the landscape’s own entropic instability. The series demonstrates the poignancy of the photographic medium’s ability to record prescient narratives through a depiction of the superficial similarities between two distinct geographies at the same time as revealing the construction of a politically charged system upon spaces and landscapes.
Southam’s work has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries, including a solo presentation at Tate St. Ives, as well as exhibitions at the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brussels and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Australia and the Recontres D’Arles. His work is held in the permanent collections of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Museum Folkwang, Düsseldorf, the Yale Centre for British Art and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.