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Ofoto Gallery
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Silence Is Space
by Ofoto Gallery
Location: Ofoto Gallery
Artist(s): Christopher TAYLOR
Date: 28 May - 8 Jul 2011

Time is not a "seasonal" entity in Christopher's photographs, not to mention a "fleeting" one: he does not immortalize a given moment through a snap of his camera, but captures and bears witness to the less mortal, more durable nature of "reality." The feeling I was struck with and enchanted by, right from the outset, was a sense of timelessness. These are places and viewpoints that are not subject to changing moods, or the chaotic din of passersby, or even the transient synergies arising from a chance encounter, but instead constitute the distilled essence of an artistic vision that is enacted through subtraction.

Still landscapes imbued with a Biblical grandeur, along with the small details of day-to-day life, in their "insipid" appearance, alternate in such a way as to highlight an approach that, while rarefied, is not a-temporal. Time is present, yet it is not real time, but is rather made up of the slow, weary stratification of dust that has been unsettled by car tires or blown through the desert, upon a stele bearing engraved calligraphy, a peeling fake leather armchair, or an old radio. It is as if Taylor were expressing in visual terms the Buddhist capacity to 'see all the world in a grain of mustard": the large and the small, present and past, motion and stillness, are Lobe found in all aspects of "reality" if one incapable of noting them, or rather, if one already finds them within oneself.

The "pure" Icelandic landscapes, with their lack of human traces, are those in which the primeval, mysterious forces of nature are best expressed. They are also the only ones where time's passage is truly not marked by the succession of days and years, dynasties or governments, but by the wind and rain, the tides and clouds. I have at times felt so attracted to them as to ask myself whether the photographer himself does not here genuinely feel he has reached the peak of his attunement with the world. Or if, like an Italian classical painter, he attempts to include the traces of a human passage seas to render the images more familiar and less ominous. The image of an open sea, with the light sharply dividing the surface into brighter and darker areas; the dusky stretches of black sand where a wave has just retreated; distant cliffs jutting over the sea and darkly reflected upon the water's surface; or even a small dead mole lying on a clump of soil with an air of composure in its disarming abandon. These are all images that might move the souls of those who feel they are one with the universe at its beginnings, in all its terrible grandeur, yet laden with surprising nuances and details.

In Iceland Christopher also follows the lives of people he knows; the singular lives of seafaring folk, or of people who have adopted a simple way of life in the midst of a harsh environment, striving to soften it with an intimate, human touch. Four spare nails on a white wall, a huge vase overflowing with fake flowers, an armchair, a simple cup...objects that remind him of someone, or of a given moment, day, or perhaps the ebb and flow of the passing days. They strike us with their air of pregnant simplicity, and we are surprised that someone would take note of them, while likewise catching our attention and leading us to consider a possibility we don't usually avail ourselves of. That of gazing upon, and allowing ourselves tube touched by, at least some of the all-too-many objects that surround us, thus considering them under a new light.

Perhaps this is one way to view Christopher's work: while the objects that he has identified stand out in stark desolation within a bare space, they are imbued with a weightiness that stems from their seeming to resonate and speak to us amid the silence. It is up to us to hear what they are saying.

Monica Dematte
Vigolo Vattaro, 5 March 2010

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