Contour Gallery's latest exhibition highlights three photographers who have a deep fascination with the changeability of nature. In their work, they investigate how humans relate to the natural world: How do we perceive nature and how do we experience it? This question is the essence of the work of Silvia de Giorgio (1992) and Tjitske Oosterholt (1991) and Sander Coers (1997)
Where De Giorgo bases her art on physical natural materials and then processes this in the darkroom, Oosterholt is mainly engaged in the studio, where she develops her images by means of photographic processes.
De Giorgo uses a self-reflective perspective to study the stories that connect people with landscapes. On the basis of drawings, analogue photography and frottage, it becomes clear how much experiential knowledge she has of natural environments. For De Giorgo, working in the darkroom is a tangible way to reconnect with the places she has captured during her travels. The fragile transience of landscapes is emphasized by alternative photographic processes, such as the use of aged photo paper, light-sensitive emulsion and tin types. This gives her the feeling of being back in a certain environment – the sounds, the smells, the rain and the cold.
Previously, she made the series Liquid Landscape, in which landscapes are seen as spaces of transition and are depicted as locations, and Landscape Pieces, which focuses on small objects collected at these visited locations.
For Oosterholt, it is essential to keep a distance. Using photographic techniques, she can allow the captured object to undergo its inherent rhythm of growth and decay.
In this way she tries to unravel the influence of light, time and movement and examines our perception of what is real.
In the exhibited series Trying to hold on to running water, we see a collection of Toyobo prints, in which the medium of photography is explored. Can photography be used as a tool for ‘letting go’ instead of holding on to something that once was? Not from a nostalgic longing, but as a tribute to transience?
In this series, the same material was used for the original image as for the reproduction, namely water, lanolin, linseed oil and pigment from burnt bones. Using the same materials as the starting and ending point creates a circular way of working.
In the Traces series, Oosterholt dissects the physical appearance of the tulip, based on an attempt to counter the belief that photography is a means of recording reality. In delineating the different colours that are extracted from a tulip, she tries to investigate the influence of our perception on what is ‘real’.
In Coers his photography the influence of nature in his work is strong, evoked by nostalgic memories of hot summers and sultry evenings of his youth. While working between his studio and on location, he offers us a view into a dreamlike world through intimate portraits and sensual details.
Both female artists actively seek interaction with the material they use. Although the photographic image is traditionally seen as a trace of a fleeting moment, De Giorgo and Oosterholt try to create space for what will disappear with the aesthetics of the processes they use.