You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred brings together artists who use photography as a tool with which to question the boundaries between past and present, the factual and the fictional. Drawing from the Zabludowicz Collection, works produced over a 40 year period by 14 artists explore photography's ability to suggest moments that are far from certain.
Reflecting the numerous strategies of production and display that co-exist within art photography today, on view are framed prints, wall-sized installations, light boxes and digital videos by significant artists across several generations, including Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Thomas Ruff, Jeff Wall, Anne Collier and Elad Lassry.
You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred maps the transition from the 'decisive moment' of street photography to picture making that instead emphasises various types of slowness, including the analysis and appropriation of images, the cinematic staging of situations, and the manipulation of digital files. The exhibition investigates the tensions and overlaps contained within these new approaches: between the re-contextualisation of existing images and the pictorial construction of new ones.
Exhibition highlights include the UK premiere of Sara Cwynar's video Soft Film, 2016, a print from Cindy Sherman's highly influential early series, Untitled Film Still No. 41, 1979, and a major early work by Wolfgang Tillmans, Berlin installation 1995-2000, 2000, which comprises 31 images arranged in a single composition. Pictures by Lucas Blalock and Andreas Gursky point to the varied uses of digital technology to manipulate images, and in works by Christopher Williams and Erin Shirreff contemporary responses to specific moments from art history and 20th century photography can be seen.
The title of the exhibition is taken from a phrase used by Jeff Wall in a conversation with fellow artist Lucas Blalock, published in 2013. Wall advocates for an art that through formal and conceptual experimentation can somehow exceed our everyday reality or 'social surface'. This exhibition focuses on artists who use our shared photographic language as the basis of such experimentation. Rather than avoiding the commercial images, cultural iconography or personal snapshots that we interact with daily, the instant familiarity of photography is used as source material. Images are reworked in order to provoke feelings of the uncanny or the still unknown, emanating from within the 'quick history' of the photographic archive.
A new full-colour publication will accompany the exhibition. Alongside images of works from the exhibition, it will include a commissioned essay from David Campany, a round-table discussion moderated by artist and writer Chris Wiley featuring Lucas Blalock. Sara Cwynar and Erin Shirreff, and a text by exhibition curator Paul Luckraft.