Clare Samuel is an artist originally from Portstewart in Co. Derry, she has lived in Canada for the last six years and is now working between there and the UK. She began her studies at Napier University in Edinburgh, completing the Photography BFA with honours at Ryerson University, Toronto and recently an MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University in Montreal. She has participated in exhibitions and artist residencies in Europe and North America. She is the recipient of various awards including the Roloff Beny Foundation Fellowship in Photography in 2008. Her work had been published in several magazines including Next Level and the current issue of Prefix Photo. She tends to work with themes of borders; between people, places or states of being, and the role of representation in these constructions.
The photographic series It is, Still (2009) explores how much portraiture can
communicate with the viewer about the interior emotional state of the subject. The images' silent choreography of subtle gestures and poses could be an attempt at interaction with the spectator, or instead part of an interior dialogue with the self. The expressions of the young people photographed are similarly ambiguous and unsettling; they can read as anguish or despair, but are also evocative of 18th century paintings of saints depicted in a state of grace, communicating with the divine.
Included in the exhibition at Context Gallery is a new video work, Imagining
Disappearing (2011). Again portraiture is engaged with, and here literally deconstructed, in terms of its ability or inability to connect us to a depicted Other. Here we witness the slow disintegration of an image of a man's face, the eyes are closed suggesting a passive and willing surrender. The piece was made by submerging a colour photograph in chemicals that release the layers of red, blue and yellow dyes that make up an analogue print. Ideas about death (long associated with photography and its stillness, its portrayal of what has passed) are evoked. Here this is a gradual transition into non-being, a tension with, bleeding into, and eventually becoming part of the exterior environment.
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