Alastair Whitton: A Foreign Land
Running presently at Barnard gallery is A Foreign Land by Cape Town-based photographer Alastair Whitton.
“My first reaction to these photographs was to shiver. Two sentences came to mind, by I know not whom – ‘Africa is a cold country where the sun always shines’ and another – ‘The touch of the devil is as cold as ice’.” Marlene Dumas, Amsterdam.
“Conceived as anthropological ‘field notes’ situated within Cape Town, Whitton’s project is unreservedly about location. And yet, despite this affirmation of place, the images remain untethered, as though caught always between places, or moments, as ghostings of some other indefinable place and time.” Ashraf Jamal, Cape Town.
Essentially a portrait of Cape Town, a city in flux, this body of work considers, what Alastair Whitton refers to as, ‘the mechanisms of memory and the mapping of geographies’. Through the lens, he explores ‘the architecture of time and the poetics and politics of place’. His photographs celebrate the seemingly commonplace and are in effect ‘monuments to the dislocated and overlooked’. Of his creative practice Whitton says, “I understand the process as a form of visual and cultural archaeology; a gathering and structuring of found fragments in an attempt to make sense of place and time while recording personal and collective histories.”
Whitton’s work has been featured in exhibitions at notable museums and institutions in South Africa and abroad including amongst others Foto Museum, Antwerp; Pratt Institute, New York; Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon; The Center for Book Arts, New York; Museo Carlo Bilotti, Rome; Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice; Musée National du Mali, Bamako and IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town.
Running parallel to and in conversation with A Foreign Land by Alastair Whitton is a short film by DutchPound, the creative collaborative of emerging filmmakers Liam Nesbitt and Joshua Whitton, that will be screened in Barnard’s dedicated film space adjacent to the main gallery.
Based in Cape Town, much of their work is informed by their immediate context and the diversity of contemporary culture fused with a knowledge of and passion for photography, visual art, music and film. As filmmakers, they are more interested in the ‘experience and expression of film as art form’ than simply using the medium as a vehicle to carry a message or relate a particular linear narrative. As such their productions are more motivated by ‘visual indicators and sound bites’ than characters and dialogue.
Their film entitled (in)conscious explores a state of mind in motion. Some would say that the mechanism of memory is less a matter of recall and more a process of re-construction. This short film considers how memory, at least our perception of it, appears different and sometimes seemingly foreign with each act of ‘re-membering’.
Alastair Whitton: A Foreign Land runs at Barnard gallery until 25 February 2020.
April 08, 2021