25 August 2013

Tin Mine Landscapes @ Shalini Ganendra Fine Art

Straddling historical significance and fine art, Eric Peris' landmark series "Tin Mine Landscapes" is redeveloped from a digital format, numbering 23 images that survived the disintegration of the original negatives. As described in the catalogue introduction, "These landscapes have been lost to development, and thus ironically, continuing economic wealth has contributed to their erasure. The concept of Impermanence (or 'Anicca' as termed in Buddhism) has been explored repeatedly in this body of work and throughout Peris’ career." Natural elements are highlighted within harsh terrains, its social significance brought to bear by the occasional inclusion of human presence or product. Hung at the serene confines of the gallery's second floor, the 54" x 38" and 27" x 19" photographs absorb the viewer, its enigma overshadowing the pixelation seen in the larger C-Type prints.

Earth - Mud Patterns: Sand Stands and Mud Clusters

Taken in the late 1970s, the series is further divided into self-explanatory groups, with subtitles like "Vegetation" and "Industrial Structures". The extraterrestrial landscapes of  "Earth - Mud Patterns" and stark terrains of  "Earth - Rock Formations", project emphatically the consequence of plundering nature, without compromising picture composition. Eric's skill at capturing the perfect horizon line, and relying on nature to provide visual interest, result in contemplative photographs where sky and earth converge. Meditating at this collection is more powerful than the recent "Earth. Water. Sky" solo exhibition, due to the ecological comment and historical context. One that stands out beautifully is from the "Earth - Sand Dunes" series, where indigo hues imbue the sandy hills with a melancholy, although I wonder whether the artist or gallery decided to colour-tint this particular work.

Earth - Sand Dunes: Sandstone Dunes against a Stormy Skyline

These images had me recalling two passages from a favourite novel - Atomised / Les Particules élémentaires, by Michel Houellebecq: "Natural forms, ...are human forms. Triangles, interweavings, branchings, appear in our minds. We recognize them and admire them; we live among them. We grow among our creations - human creations, which we communicate to men - and among them we die. In the midst of space, human space, we make our measurements, and with these measurements we create space, the space between our instruments." "Love binds, and it binds forever. Good binds, while evil unravels...All that exists is a magnificent interweaving, vast and reciprocal."

Vegetation: Island of Tiger Tongue Grass near the Water's Edge

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