The inextricable link between Photography and Sculpture, Emilia van Lynden
Unseen Publication (ISBN 978-90-822642-0-3)
Unseen explores the inextricable link between photography and sculpture in the work of Andrew Lacon (b. 1985, England). Throughout history, sculpture has often been viewed as an art form that stands alone; an art form that has never relied upon other mediums but has stood separate and independent. In Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, sculpture was a manner in which the appearances and statuses of great leaders were documented; a tradition that continued through the ages. In our contemporary society, the utilisation of this medium has drastically changed. Contemporary artists no longer dedicate their careers to creating the most exquisite busts of citizens or statues of prominent figures from the Bible. Andrew Lacon, an emerging artist from the West Midlands in England, is interested in exploring the role of sculpture in relation to photography. Lacon cannot differentiate between sculpture and photography and even though his work is based on photographic theory, he develops beyond the print, beyond the image. He believes that his work exists between the two and that it slips between the mediums.
After studying photography in Plymouth and at the Royal College of Art, sculpture started to become a prominent aspect within his work. He had already been looking at documenting sculpture while still at college, however, it was only after graduating that he felt he had the freedom to explore the medium further. What Lacon began to understand is that sculpture – to a certain extent – relies on photography for its distribution. Lacon, who now works and lives in Birmingham, wants to create work that investigates the different ways in which sculpture has been documented, especially focusing on the use of light when photographing specific elements of a sculpture, such as drapery made out of marble. His new work, Reproduction of Sculpture, exemplifies this idea, questioning the way we look at sculpture and how we experience it through the distribution of the image. When the photographic medium was invented, photographs of sculptures were printed in books in order to reach a wide audience. “With Reproduction of Sculpture, the disregard for the fetishized photographic print and use of a ‘cheap’ photocopy, highlights the way an image can never replicate the original experience, losing original sculptural concerns of material, weight and surface”, Lacon comments.
This specific work is a photocopy made from an image of a sculpture created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the prominent architect and sculptor, whose fame was staggering in 17th century Italy. The sculpture, named The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, depicts a dramatic scene of a nun overwhelmed in a state of religious ecstasy. St. Theresa’s robe is a magnificent example of how the artist worked with marble in the Baroque era and it is her lower robe that appears in the photocopy that Lacon works with. Each time that the work is exhibited, the photocopy is subsequently photocopied which gradually decreases the quality of the image: “This in turn addresses the oversaturation of images and how we regularly accept an image as a replacement for the experience.” As Lacon continues to create photocopies, the print becomes more abstract and begins to look like a marble effect on paper. In Lacon’s opinion, this almost becomes a truer representation of the original sculpture. After the photographic process, Lacon frames the piece specifically with museum glass, to allow the viewers to appreciate and view the low quality of the print and the way the ink sits on top of the paper.
Working on the basis that photography, in its simplest form, is the recording of refraction and reflection of light, Lacon has started to use photographic gels to reintroduce colour to the image once exhibited, recording colour in a non-permanent way, as seen in Reproduction of Sculpture.
The work that Lacon presents at Unseen Photo Fair is based on the theories he used when working on the Reproduction of Sculpture. Sculpture, in connection with photography, will yet again be pushed to new limits. Even though Lacon has begun making his newest series that will be shown at Unseen Photo Fair, “like painting or stone carving, you can not entirely plan it in advance; you just know when it is finished”.
© Emilia van Lynden / Unseen