Group exhibition, Site Gallery, 2002

From sublime landscape images to christmas card and snowglobe kitsch, there are varying degrees of romanticism associated with the snowscape. In this exhibition photography, video and sculptural sound installations undercut the romanticisation of the snowscape through a variety of means.

Mariele Neudecker samples romantic images, such as those of Caspar David Friedrich, but they are framed by technology and do not rouse the awe & fear traditionally associated with the sublime. This “technosublime” exposes romanticism by reproducing it mechanically and inclines us to question our desire for transcendent landscape, whilst still evoking a spectre of the original feeling.

Neal Beggs’s Winter Maps, appear at a glance to be standard Ordnance survey maps, but in fact they are documents in which actual representation of snowscape has been super-imposed upon the unchanging topography of the mapped mountains. Obscuring information yet revealing the more truthful nature of the landscape, Beggs’ anti-spectacular representations thwart the feeling of the sublime.

In Dalziel & Scullion’s photo and video works the sublimity and timelessness of nature is set against against the immediacy of mankind’s efforts to control and develop the landscape. Sumptuous colour images contrast with archival monochrome which seems to herald the dawn of modernity and the commercialisation of nature. The pairing of the images leads the viewer to discover that the reality of the romantic perception of landscape is unfounded.

Chloe Brown’s installations incorporate sound, stuffed animals and artificial snow and move back to a feeling of the Romantic more to do with romance, with the kitsch of the snowglobe or the childhood fairytale, a self-referring world where rabbits cry and it snows indoors. An underlying menace is, however, scarcely concealed by the thin layers of the picturesque and the snow which covers the carefully posed taxidermy and the sounds of child and animal distress.

A very beautiful but far from kitsch image of a snowstorm is presented in Seifollah Samadian’s video the White Station in which a woman carrying an umbrella braves an unprecedented Tehran snowstorm in order to use public transportation. The simplicity of the action and motivation quickly dissolves into a profound statement on the human condition.

In contemporary culture, communication and audio-visual technologies diminish spatial, temporal and social boundaries -and make it difficult for the Romantic sublime to subsist. Technology itself is seen as having subsumed the romantic sublime as it is “ terrifying in the limitless unknowability of it’s potential” in the same way landscape, particularly snowscape, was seen by the 19th century Romantics. The works in Frozen, by means of artificial snow, modelled mountains, digital animation, the freeze frames of photography & the flow of video investigate the possible locations for the contemporary sublime in our current technological culture.

Artists: Neal Beggs (France), Chloe Brown (UK), Dalziel & Scullion (UK), Mariele Neudecker (UK), Seifollah Samadian (Iran)

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