The exhibition, and the 344pp publication that accompany it, bringing together contributions from nine leading scholars and curators in the field, including the Director of The Photographers‘ Gallery, Brett Rogers. Each of the nine contributors has selected works from Kippin’s forty-year archive to provide new insights into his way of seeing the world through a lens.
Kippin’s photographic artwork has contributed to debates about the nature of post-industrial landscapes, national and regional identity, forgotten spaces, and the power of the state and commerce to reshape the world. Since the 1980s, Kippin has created billboards for public spaces that intervene in the social realm directly – countering the messages of advertising with counter-cultural propositions, and questions.
Alongside well-known works including the seminal ‘Nostalgia for the Future’ we encounter works such as ‘Hidden’, revealing the power of the state in every aspect of our lives, and every corner of the world we thought we knew. ‘Hidden’ pictures a smashed-up jet fighter plane, grounded in the middle of the country, surrounded by rolling English hills and fields. It is as though a fighter plane from Iraq or Afghanistan had alarmingly tumbled out of the sky into a pastoral field in England: as though war had come home to haunt us. ‘Hidden’ reveals that which is hidden in plain sight: that the monopoly on violence held by the state underpins all of our lives. The graphic designer Peter Saville chose ‘Hidden’ to be the cover of Suede’s album Sci-Fi Lullabies in recognition of its Englishness, its peculiar glamour, and its horror.
The exhibition includes 20 new monumental prints of work originally shot across four decades that reveal the state of the nation over the artist’s lifetime. Across the panoramic range of subjects from tourism to cold war militarism, Kippin has consistently asked: what we have become? What can we see of ourselves, as a society, and what still remains hidden?
In collaboration with North-East Photography Network the artist will talk about his work on Wednesday 23 May 6:30 at the gallery.
The project is accompanied by a major monograph about Kippin’s entire career published by Kerber, Berlin, with the same title. The launch of the book is Friday 29 June 6:00 – 8:00.