“What a marvellous invention man is! He can blow on his hands to warm them up, and blow on his soup to cool it down.”
Georges Perec, A Man Asleep (1967)
How can you photograph air?
This year, checking through the photography exhibitions featured in PHoto ESPAÑA, I was perplexed to read in the programme that there was a show on photography and air. How can you capture the wind, a breeze, a gust or draught in a photograph? How can you reflect an aura, the atmosphere, space or oxygen? You can’t photograph air.
Photography and air
The exhibition by the Australian artist, Patrick Pound, originally from New Zealand, puts forward the idea of air as the theme running through this whole exhibition. As the “fluid which forms the Earth’s atmosphere,” it cannot be photographed, yet its effects and everything containing it can be portrayed through photos. Through his collection, the artist has created a visual jigsaw puzzle where every piece contains the idea of this gaseous mixture.
Prints by Goya, belonging to the Lázaro Galdiano Museum, 500 photographs and other objects make up this display. The pieces are ordered by the artist and put on show for visitors following a system akin to an algorithm in which the critical factor is that air features in the image. Sometimes there is a visual connection between the pieces, while in other instances the link is more conceptual. Occasionally the wind seems to blow in through one of the photographs, whirl around and then leave via another. It is stimulating for the viewer to admire photographs detached from their original story to form part of a whole new tale. In this sense, Pound frees the photographs from their original meaning, granting them new significance through his approach to how they are shown.
The artist has been collecting images since the 1980s. Now his collection has become his artwork. Reorganising the photographs into different themes such as “Falls,” “People sleeping,” “Mistakes,” or “Air,” he creates collections grouped into subcategories whose common denominator is the concept behind the image.
PHoto ESPAÑA 2019
This international festival of photography and visual arts, now in its 21st year, is held in Madrid every summer, turning Spain and Madrid in particular into a meeting point for the world of photography. Exhibitions and activities are held in the leading museums, art spaces, galleries and other venues across the city. Susan Bright, this year’s guest curator, presents a programme of five exhibitions featuring Patrick Pound, Elina Brotherus, Clare Strand, Laura Letinsky, Sharon Core and Délio Jasse, offering a new challenge to spectators: to reflect on how photographs work instead of simply observing their content. Each edition is themed and this year centres on the question posed by the guest curator to artists and spectators alike: ¿Déjà Vú?
Exposition: Patrick Pound. Photography and air from the 4 June to the 25 August in the Museo Lázaro Galdiano.
Comisaria: Susan Bright
Photography: Oscar Rivilla
Translation: Rebekah Jane Rhodes
Music: Dr Symtosizer
Colaboration: Román Bailón y Andrés Biosca.
Styling: Carolina Omaña
Art Directors: Oscar Rivilla and Carolina Verd.
Main picture, picture 2 and 3: sunglasses by Chloé; sneakers buy Diadora courtesy from Globally. Long dress by Yenny Bastida courtesy from Bryantparkcomunicaci´n.
Picture 4: sunglasses by Chloé; sneakers by Diadora courtesy from Globally. Kimono by Yenny Bastida courtesy from Bryantparkcomunicación.
Picture 5: dress by Yenny Bastida courtesy from Bryantparkcomunicación.