Geoffrey Farmer: The Surgeon and the Photographer

29 January – 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.