“Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.”
-In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
For Baud Postma’s solo exhibition ‘In Praise of Shadows’ he explores the role played by ambiguity and uncertainty in promoting subjective responses to photographic images. Taking inspiration and his title from the 1977, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki's essay of the same name, Postma has created a series of landscapes, interiors and portraits that place emphasis not on minute detail and forensic precision but rather on the indeterminate, the murky, and the obscure.
Even in this era of digital manipulation, we are conditioned to see photography in terms of its evidential authority. French Philosopher Roland Barthes used the words “ça a été” (this has been) to pinpoint the medium’s very essence as a recorder of reality. This series queries what exactly the photograph documents if the subject and its resulting depiction are so mutable and even unrelated.
In these works, rich in shadow, often underexposed and softly focused, Postma exploits the brain's innate and subconscious instinct to fill in the blanks in what is proven to be a highly subjective fashion. As Andy Grundberg observed, “All we see is seen through the kaleidoscope of all that we have seen before”. This body of work explores this idea in the context of photography’s wider and inherently complicated relationship with authenticity: how willingly we accept a photograph as a reflection of a definitive truth.
Influenced by our era of fake news, the fascinating evidence for photography's impact on memory and ideas of credibility, along with the brain’s proven ineptitude at distinguishing manipulated from authentic images, these works expand the assertion of Hirshi Sugimoto’s that “however fake the subject, once photographed it’s as good as real”. Postma seamlessly brings together images captured on location in wild and remote places with others made in his Peckham studio to curate a sense of singular location. Avoiding the use of digital manipulation, he constructed stage sets and used large scale image projection to build a visual and visceral sense of atmosphere and place that, despite appearances, never really existed.