The outline seems indelible
Southwest Showcase, Plymouth Arts College Gallery, Plymouth
6 February – 1 March 2013
Photography and print both record a moment: an action placed in time. However, both media also cause slippages in time, unsettling a clear distinction between past, present and future. When you discover an old photograph you are transported back to that moment, resulting in a feeling of being out of place with your current context. This consequence of photography can give a sense of displacement, as you realise you are neither in, nor out, of synchronisation with time.
James’ work predominantly uses the materials of photography, slide, print and audio. Works are realised through a process of gathering, placing, duration and contemplation. Found works are often utilised, taken from locations that the artist has encountered herself and placed alongside made works. As such all of these materials have a different sense of time imbedded within them, resulting in an ambivalent relationship to a chronology within the practice.
Multiple authors are present in every work. The audio pieces impose two voices directly into the space, providing a texture in which the images exist. By engaging authors from diverse contexts, the artist’s own subjectivity is fundamentally challenged, as the subjects of the exhibition are continually re-mediated through multiple gazes.
One such author is Alain Robbe Grillet whose short novel La Jalousie, 1957, has informed this exhibition in both the title and an audio work of the same name. The audio piece records the artist reading extracts describing the appearance of a centipede, which is an endlessly repeated motif in the book. The centipede is killed by being squashed against a wall; an action, and subsequent stain, which is obsessively described by Robbe Grillet. The idea of an imprint, as a recorder of experience or memory, is one that resonates with the interests within James’ practice.
Threads of multiple-authorship continue within other works, such as Barbara Hepworth, Cotham School, which presents two photographs documenting Barbara Hepworth sculptures in her house in St Ives. The photographs were discovered by James in an old collection of teaching resources in a secondary school, as were the slides in Selected Interiors, Cotham School. Both of these works present an original author and work, in the forms of painting and sculpture, yet these voices become mediated and distanced from the viewer through the various subjectivities that have been imposed upon them.
James also examines these concerns within her own photographs. 2003, 2008, 2010 is a single film of 36 exposures that was co-authored accidentally over a period of seven years. Within this piece, James’ subjectivity becomes one of many and, the different temporalities that each image inhabits, results in multiple fissures within time.
James’ practice is ultimately concerned with how these subjects exist and how time and its effects impact upon them, with our own experience of this being realised through our own individual encounter of The outline seems indelible. In this way the correlation between experience and memory becomes central, with both of these contingent forces existing in a continual loop of effect and thus in a state of flux.