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Art Fairs — 2021
Parafin is delighted to participate in Photo London presenting a group of works exploring images of forests. Throughout history forests have been powerful symbolic sites in all cultures, yet have often represented quite contradictory ideas. On one hand, the forest has been seen as a place of retreat, of sanctuary, and of regeneration (Robin Hood’s Sherwood, Shakespeare's Forest of Arden). On the other, it is a place of danger and confusion (see the stories of The Brothers Grimm or films such as ‘The Blair Witch Project’ or ‘Wake Wood’).
The presentation explores how images of dense and tangled undergrowth can convey or evoke different states of mind, as well as wider societal themes. These images are knotty, impenetrable, unruly and overwhelming - feelings we are all familiar with at the moment - but we might also see them as pastoral or Romantic visions offering the possibility of escape from recent events. By bringing them together we invite the viewer to explore subjective responses to what is one of the fundamental cultural archetypes.
Melanie Manchot, Sophy Rickett, Indrė Šerpytytė, Melanie Smith
9 – 12 September 2021
Melanie Manchot’s photographs document the patches of snow that persist in the mountains long after winter has passed. They are part of a series of investigations into the material qualities and conditions of white, specifically in relation to snow and ice in the landscape of Engelberg, Switzerland. In the images, the melting snow glows against the dark, foreboding woodland and sky, revealing itself as physically precarious, archetypes of an endangered natural materiality.
Sophy Rickett’s ‘nature studies’ are in fact examinations of de-natured subjects. Her work is much concerned with what a photograph might reveal and what it might conceal. The owl, the archetypal nocturnal bird, was actually photographed during the day, with the image then manipulated in the darkroom to make it look like night. Moreover, the bird is not wild but photographed in an owl sanctuary. The trees are not illuminated by an ecstatic sunrise or sunset but by artificial street lights.
Indrė Šerpytytė’s ‘Forest Brothers’ series is part of a larger body of work, entitled ‘1944-1991’, which explores the impact of the so-called ‘war after the war’ in Lithuania. Šerpytytė’s beautiful but anonymous images are in fact highly charged, depicting sites of anti-Soviet resistance in Lithuania. The intimate photographs document locations used by resistance fighters both as refuge and burial sites.
Melanie Smith’s Jungle is part of an accompanying series of photographs to the video piece Xilitia. For these works, Smith collaborated with the filmmaker Rafael Ortega to document the fantastical surrealist garden of British aristocrat Edward James (1907–1984). The film and photographs were shot in a vertical format to highlight the nature of the towering gothic structures present around the garden. The use of blue filters changes the characteristically green location into an eerie new world where the architecture is gradually being reclaimed by the nature around it. Through a constellation of layered associations, Smith’s work reflects on James’ exoticised enclave and it’s dreamlike contradictions.
Lives and works in London
Since 1997 Melanie Manchot has exhibited internationally and in 2017 was shortlisted for the prestigious Jarman Award by Film London. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Open Stage. Back Stage’, Kunsthaus Centre d’art Pasquart, Biel, Switzerland (2019), BTV Stadtforum Innsbruck, Oesterreich (2018) ‘Open Ended Now’, MAC VAL, Musee d’art contemporain Val de Marne, Paris, France (2018), ‘White Light Black Snow’, Parafin, London (2018), ‘Dance (All Night, London)’, Art Night, London (2017), ‘People Places Propositions’, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne (2016), ‘11/18’, fig-2 at the ICA, London (2015). Important recent group exhibitions include ‘Actions’, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge (2018), the Marl Media Arts Awards at Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten Marl, Germany (2016), ‘Group Therapy’, FACT, Liverpool (2015), ‘The Rhythm Is...’, Museum Folkwang, Essen (2014), and ‘Global Feminisms’ at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (2007). Manchot’s work is included in important public and private collections including the Arts Council Collection, London, Government Art Collection, London, MAC, Fonds Municipal d’Art Contemporain, Paris and the Brooklyn Museum, New York.
Lives and works in London
Sophy Rickett studied at the Royal College of Art and is now a Senior Lecturer for Photography at the London College of Communication. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Cupid and the Curious Moaning of Kenfig Burrows’, Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea, UK (2019), ‘Objects in the Field’, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford (2014). Important group exhibitions include ‘London Nights’, Museum of London, London, ‘Œuvre exposée / Permanent Collection’, Musée d'Arts de Nantes - Cube - Niveau -1, Nantes, France (2018), ‘Into The Woods: Trees in Photography’, V&A, London, (2017). Her work is included in many collections internationally including V&A, London, Government Art Collection, London, FRAC, Alsace, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée des Beaux Art Nantes and the Fondation Re Rebaundengo, Turin.
Lives and works in London
Indrė Šerpytytė’s work centres on the recent history of Lithuania. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘When the Golden Sun is Sinking’, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Rugby, UK, (2019), ‘From. Between. To.’, Parafin, London, UK, (2019), CAC, Vilnius (2017); Parafin, London (2016), Still House Group, New York (2016), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow (2015). Important recent group exhibitions include ‘Celebrate for Change’, Mo Museum, Vilnius (2021), ‘Refugees: Forced To Flee’, Imperial War Museum, London (2020), ‘Memory Matters’, Skissernas Museum, Lund (2018); Riga Biennial of Contemporary Art, Riga, Latvia (2018), ‘Undersong’, KIM?, Riga (2018), ‘Age of Terror: Art after 9/11’, Imperial War Museum, London (2018), ‘Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015’, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2015) and ‘Conflict, Time and Photography’, Tate Modern, London and Museum Folkwang, Essen (2014-15).
Lives and works in London and Mexico City
Smith was born and studied in the UK. However, following a move to Mexico City in 1989 she became a key member of a burgeoning art community there, alongside contemporaries such as Francis Alÿs and Gabriel Orozco. In 2011 she represented Mexico at the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Farce and Artifice’, MACBA, Barcelona (2018), MUAC, Mexico City (2019) and Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico (2019), Milton Keynes Gallery (2014), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (2014). Recent group exhibitions include Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2019), the Liverpool Biennial (2018), Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, (2016), and Kunstmuseum Bern (2016) amongst many others. Her work is in many important international collections including Tate (who own an edition of the Xilitia video work), London, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth, Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, MACBA, Barcelona, IVAM, Valencia, Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zurich, La Coleccion Jumex, Mexico City and the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami.
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