From the thousands of fantastic photographs that will be on show (and for sale) at the Somerset House during Photo London, we managed to pull together a small selection of some of our favorites—an Editors’ Preview of Photo London 2016.
From this eclectic mix, a number of photographers’ work particularly caught our eye. Here, we profile the young Swiss artist Douglas Mandry (represented by Bildhalle Gallery) and showcase samples from three of his projects: Promised Land, Paradis, Five Minutes to the Sun.
Like many of the recent graduates from Switzerland’s premier art and design school ECAL, Douglas Mandry is producing strong and original work at a young age. In Mandry’s case, his focus is on manipulating and distorting the materiality of the photographic medium in order to examine our representations of, and relation with, the natural world.
In his most eye-catching series, “Promised Land,” Mandry puts his photographs through a process of “analog retouching”—first producing prints and then “reworking” the resulting images by hand: puncturing, rubbing, dispersing, adding light, smoke and texture. His aim with these radical yet artful transfigurations is to interrogate our “reckless yet romanticized relationship with the natural world.” Somewhere, sometimes, humanity can be loving and appreciative of the earth’s beauty; in the next moment, we are destructive beyond the point of no return.
His other major series is the cyanotype set “Five Minutes to the Sun.” The series revisits our standard, Western notions of “exotic landscape photography” by forcing us to the confront the reality of tropical regions. By using cyanotypes, Mandry makes reference to the scientific illustrations through which the West has long come to understand the wild tropics. But Mandry plays with the medium by exposing each frame for exactly 5 minutes. This development process, of which Mandry has little control, leads to the creation of “wrong” images—sometimes over or under-exposed and thus dark and foreboding or completely blown out. The final prints take on an “ersatz of tropical feeling — [an] echo of the saturated posters of tropical imagery.”