Geoffrey Farmer: The Surgeon and the Photographer

29 January 2009–6 March 2010

Geoffrey Farmer

Catriona Jeffries is pleased to announce the launch of its 2010 season with the forthcoming exhibition, Geoffrey Farmer: The Surgeon and the Photographer. Inspired by Aby Warburg’s Memory Atlas, this ambitious project uses the conceptual framework of a calendar in which to arrange and display 365 paper and cloth figures. Using a collage technique, cutting photographs from books, Farmer, like Warburg, engages the viewer in a fluid non-hierarchical, non-historical, cross-cultural consideration of images and ideas.

The figures which can also be read as puppets, are indicative of the relationship of the hand to the book, and the book to the reproducibility of the photographic image. The title of the work itself refers to a part of Benjamin’s seminal essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in which the magician is compared to the painter and the surgeon is compared to the cameraman:

“The magician heals a sick person by the laying on of hands; the surgeon cuts into the patient’s body”. Benjamin goes on to state: “The painter maintains in his work a natural distance from reality, the cameraman penetrates deeply into its web. There is a tremendous difference between the pictures they obtain. That of the painter is a total one, that of the cameraman consists of multiple fragments which are assembled under a new law.”

“The magician heals a sick person by the laying on of hands; the surgeon cuts into the patient’s body”. Benjamin goes on to state: “The painter maintains in his work a natural distance from reality, the cameraman penetrates deeply into its web. There is a tremendous difference between the pictures they obtain. That of the painter is a total one, that of the cameraman consists of multiple fragments which are assembled under a new law.” Farmer’s presentation of the figures though seems to reveal a desire to maintain both positions simultaneously and it is into this inquiry and dilemma that we are invited – a question that Farmer explores in the creation of this new work. Farmer will also be presenting a new video work that has been developed to accompany this project.

For further information or press enquires please contact Catriona Jeffries or Anne Low at +1 604 736 1554.