This Way Up
Exhibition at Flowers Gallery, London. April - May 2015
Curated by Chris Littlewood
Working at the juncture between photography, sculpture and performance, Tom Lovelace's interdisciplinary practice explores the fundamentals of photography by extending beyond traditional notions or boundaries of the medium. The architecture of time and light, along with an exploration of function and form are examined through unexpected manipulations of everyday materials and objects.
Marking a progression from his most recent series, the In Preparation photographs, in which Lovelace documented his attempts to tame and extend a collection of makeshift plinths, This Way Up presents a collection of work which manifests through a cross-referencing of image, object and the artist's intervention.
"Lovelace trained as a fine art photographer, but has always been drawn to its intersection with other media, and is well aware of the resulting paradoxes and polemics. Most people experience R. Mutt's Fountain (1917) via the photograph of Alfred Stieglitz, for example; and it is only via photographs that one can get an inkling of The Lovers (1988), a 90-day performance in which Marina Abramovic and Ulay approached each other from opposite ends of The Great Wall of China. Many continue to argue that the photograph is the mere skeleton after the feast and can be no substitute for direct viewing of a three-dimensional object, or a time-based performance. Lovelace's solution is subtler and more elegant, involving finely crafted photographs-as-sculptures, or photographs-as-performances." David Evans
The raw, often found, materials that Lovelace draws our attention to are practical apparatus found in both the home and on the construction site. In This Way Up, these are reconsidered and reconfigured as photographic objects, creating conditions which disrupt both their original identity and application. Untitled Red (date unknown - 2014)is a naturally occurring photogram created using sections of felt, which were once hung on the exterior walls of a theatre in Umbria, Italy. The fabric had absorbed and soaked the suns rays over time, tracing the placards and signs placed upon them. Lovelace removed and reframed the panels, 'fixing' the image under ultra-violet protected glass. The initial period of exposure is unknown, rendering the work simultaneously bound by time and timeless.
Taking common support structures, such as the picture frame or the stool, Lovelace re-organizes and subverts their functional hierarchies. Works such as Stargazing on Black, 2015 and Monteluco Sole, 2013 collapse the notion of the object's usefulness altogether - their formal reduction showcases what Lovelace has called a further 'controlled slippage' into a minimal, abstract image plane.
The title of the exhibition references an instruction found on cardboard packaging. This is usually accompanied by two bold arrows pointing upwards, yet the works in this exhibition have no such accompanying signs. In This Way Up, Lovelace creates highly-orchestrated encounters between the fixed and the ephemeral, in which order, orientation and purpose are engaged in a continual state of push and pull.