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.