'AFTERDARK' at João Ferreira
Nothing is quite so terrifying as the demons created by one's own imagination. When provoked by an evocative setting - twilight and the impending darkness, the black shadows of dense forest, misty seas, abandoned landscapes, a faceless presence - even the most rational mind is compelled to fill in disquieting details. In 'AFTERDARK', Tracy Lindner Gander plays emotion against intellect in a series of colour landscape photographs that frighten in their mystery and fascinate in their detail.
The15 photographs in the series depict prosaic, everyday landscapes: a parking lot, a sports field, a construction site. With the exception of three shots titled Kuilfontein, Springfontein, the locations are rather unremarkable roadside scenes along the major arteries of the photographer's native Cape Town. Gander examines these venues from a perspective just off the road, in the complexity of twilight and the density of the dark. Capturing these spaces in the ambient lights of the night and the spotlight of her car headlamps, she dares the viewer to consider the night-time mystery of these mundane daytime locations.
In M6, Victoria Rd., Clifton I, a wide round pool of light falls across the foreground of a deserted parking lot. It catches a border of tall grass and the base of a tree before fading into the eerie green shadows of the surrounding bush. Two streetlights burn into trees on the horizon, an orange moon hangs overhead.
The eye casts about for a figure, an object, a clue to the focus of the light. Finding no satisfaction in the light, the eye moves to the dark. The shadows are alluringly rich, drawing the viewer in for closer examination of their subtle detail. The contrast of intense light and intricate shadow, as well as the disorientating emptiness of the scene, creates a tension that is disturbing. In an instinctive desire for explanation and resolution, imagination obliges where intellect fails. The viewer is challenged to create a narrative, and therein lies the impact of Gander's work.
The landscapes in 'AFTERDARK' are void of human presence, but rich in universal metaphor and symbols of primal fear - closed gates cast in shadow, dark forests, misty seas, twilight sky heavy with clouds. The anonymous, public spaces provide common ground for the free play of common human anxieties. Initially disturbing in their narrative ambiguity, the scenes prod the imagination and inspire the appearance of personal demons. The viewer's payout for tolerating this emotional discomfort is the satisfaction of authoring a satisfactory resolution to the conflict.
The exhibition is not necessarily intended to be a study in human psychology; Gander captures the essence of place with an alluring sense of perspective, a strong command of composition and a precise nuance of vision. Yet, the essence of fundamental human emotion is strongly present in the work. The enigma of place, emotion, and the relationship between the two guides the viewer's experience. 'AFTERDARK' is a compelling exploration of the landscape of the mind.
September 17 - October 4
João Ferreira Gallery, 80 Hout Street, Cape Town
Tel: 021 423 5403 or 082 490 2977
Fax: 021 423 2136
Hours: Tue - Fri 10am - 6pm, Sat 10am - 2pm