Saturday, 5 May 2012



 When Collishaw’s son was born his flat had to be cleared of an infestation of bugs. He pressed the remains between 35mm slides and projected them on the wall with microscopic detail: vibrant yellow, green and blue wings together with crushed bodies. I first saw them in 2009 at the Haunch of Venison Gallery.

Beauty and destruction. ‘Matt Collishaw can always find the instrinsically evil in photography.’ So runs the text on the Saatchi Gallery website. Perhaps his most famous image is a close up of a head wound caused an ice pick.  

Here Madonna’s beautiful face is cropped from a photograph of an Indian woman, taken after her village had been destroyed by floods. How do you make an impact with something as flimsy as a picture when it is so heavily freighted with grief and loss? He takes us back to one of the oldest art forms, the way that for centuries gods, saints and martyrs were immortalised in sacred space. He transforms a fleeting photograph into a monumental mosaic (425cm x 258cm)made up of tiny ceramic tiles. It’s said to be a parody of computer pixellation.

One of the most shocking images in the whole show, Eighth Day,  is given similar treatment. It’s a reproduction of a photo Collishaw found in an old book of a real lynching. It's also been transformed into a mosaic and as you stand in the gallery and face its 354 x 279.6 dimensions, you  instantly become one of the  spectators joining the crowd, a voyeur hanging around in a cluster of ordinary-looking men, none of whom came out that morning without first putting on their hats. Do you stay and try to figure out what's happening? Or do you walk away in disgust or distress or both? It is decision- time.
P.S. It may be worth looking back at Blog 129  to compare Collinson's treatment of Madonna with


No comments:

Post a Comment