Hamish Morrison Galerie is pleased to present Redox, an exhibition of new work by the artist Erik Niedling. This is Niedling's second exhibition with the gallery.
In his previous show Formation, Niedling presented a series of enigmatic and unsettling photographs made from glass negatives from the 1930s. In Redox, he continues to deal with the history of photography, but this time, he reflects on the nature of the paper document - its role in conserving information, and its meaning today and in the future.
At first glance, the nineteen large photographs seem to show a single black surface. But with time, viewers are able to identify subtle light reflexes, fine modulations and movements. Single letters, and sometimes words, start to emerge from the blackness, but rarely whole sentences. The photographs in fact depict the ashes of newspapers, which Niedling has collected and ordered into their various sections - Business, Arts, Sciences, Editorial and so on - and then burned. On the one hand, the process of burning the papers is violent, but on the other, it illustrates the fragility of memory. The fragments it leaves behind are like relics, partial pieces of information that lose almost all of their meaning. And with their meaning, our memories disappear too.
There is a clever contradiction at the heart of Niedling's work. Photography is a medium for capturing images, for stopping the decay of information and preserving memory in permanent form. But as the world moves towards a digital future, more and more information is stored in intangible, untouchable ways. This has led to paranoia about the gradual loss of cultural information. Niedling handles this tension ironically, by making photographs of information that has already been destroyed.
Another facet Niedling is also particularly interested in, is the polar relationships between the colours black and white. He carefully develops the various tones of black in his work so that it becomes richly nuanced - a subtlety that questions the strict psychological and aesthetic distinctions between black and white. Framed in white, his dark surfaces become "horror vacui" - empty spaces that our minds try to fill, using the tiny fragments of information that were saved from the fire to reanimate our memories.
Erik Niedling was born in 1973 in Erfurt, Germany. His work has been shown extensively throughout Germany, including at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg and Angermuseum, Erfurt. In conjunction with his solo exhibition "Formation" in Berlin a comprehensive catalogue was published by Hatje Cantz. Erik Niedling lives and works in Berlin.