Cornelia Parker: One Day This Glass Will Break at the Alan Christea Gallery
Like a kind of Midas Touch, a photographic camera can produce something beautiful at the cost of inanimateness. Resembling an act of violence, taking a photograph means depriving someone or something from the possibility of moving, immortalising an infinitesimal fraction of time once conceived as indivisible. All these realisations have led intellectuals, art theorists, and even a superstitious crowd, to suspect of a philosophical relationship between photography and death.
These speculations nowadays seem out of place, as this art of reproduction no longer has an aura of magic or mysticism. But in One Day This Glass Will Break, Cornelia Parker has found a way to reintegrate violence to the process of turning a three-dimensional object into a flat and collapsed version of itself. She does this by a process called photogravure, which consists in placing objects on a plate and exposing them to ultraviolet light. The result is a photographic positive with enough detail on its shadows to convey a sense of volume and weight.
A Shot of Tequila shows a gun and liquid coming out of it, which due to the black and white nature of the artwork, its ambiguous consistency can take any colour or density in the spectator’s imagination. Still Life with Levitating Grapes is another clever execution, taking advantage of the easiness that the photogravure resource gives the artist in terms of gravity manipulation. Other similar pieces in this series show light bulbs, glasses, ice cubes and roses in inventive portrayals that hint to stories of their own.
Thirty Pieces of Silver (Exposed) goes one step further in medium reflectivity, as Parker performed the photogravure process on the already trapped spectres of photographic negatives. The result is a sequence of 21 positives of a large collection of silverware.
Since this single resource is explored in only one way, each piece is well accomplished, but the exhibition as a whole feels repetitive. Nonetheless, the interesting play with positive and negative, life and death, and the in-between achieved through violent acts of representation make the work interesting enough to pay a visit. And to do it soon, as surely all these pieces will shortly be hanging on some collector’s wall.
Cornelia Parker: One Day This Glass Will Break is at the Alan Cristea Gallery from 12th October until 14th November, for further information visit here.