Baltic | 39, Newcastle. September 2013
Curated by William Cooper
The printed image has become, since the invention of photograpy, a vital tool for the viewing, sharing and experiencing art. However, what is represented in a photograph can never fully reflect the real thing, Andrew Lacon’s project for FIGURE ONE attempts to address this shortcoming.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, The British Museum published a series of photographic portfolios which were distributed to regional libraries around the country. At the time many believed that seeing a photographic reproduction was the same as seeing the real thing and there collections of images opened the museum’s doors to the whole country. It wasn’t for another sixty years, with the publication of Walter Benjamin’s seminal text ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reprodcution’, that this assumption was widely challenged.
Lacon’s work plays with the shortcomings of early photographic practice that have been highlighted by the early British Museum documents. Lacon uses the examples of their photographs of the Parthenon Frieze where plaster sections of the frieze, added by the museum, become bleached out when photographically reproduced. The white sections of plaster become over-exposed, and only serve to stress the flaws in photographic technique.
The large seemingly abstract shapes in Lacon’s work reference the plaster forms of the Frieze, and the somewhat haunting glow of colour, bleeding onto the gallery wall reference to the bold and surprising colours the early Greek sculpture was painted.