Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Vanessa Winship at Fundacion Mapfre

Sweet Nothings: Schoolgirls of Eastern Anatolia, 2007

The work of Vanessa Winship (b. 1960, Barton-upon-Humber, UK) focuses on issues such as frontier, identity, vulnerability and the body. Since the 1990s Winship has worked in regions including the Balkans, the Black Sea and the Caucasus, places associated in the collective imagination with the instability and darkness of recent history and with the volatility of borders and identities. Her series offer a reflection on how the course of history moulds the shapes of the landscape and leaves its mark on its inhabitants' bodies, features and gestures. Travel and her encounters with the Other are thus central to her life and photographic output.

Winship's images place most emphasis on the powerful presence of a human landscape which imposes itself on political and social conflicts and emerges from among the ruins of vanishing worlds. The vestiges of a recent past (buildings, commemorative sculpture and means of transport) seem to proceed in the opposite direction to the people moving among them. Winship thus depicts the mythical and legendary component that roots these places in civilisation and history but simultaneously destabilises them. As a result, she forges a link between the archaic and a present that seems to lies abandoned by the wayside as progress passes by. The historical events that have marked these regions are evoked, but Winship places most emphasis on each one's micro-history: leisure activities, interiors of schools, working conditions and different forms of socialising and religious worship.

Using an aesthetic located between elegy and celebration, the photographs that Vanessa Winship produced until 2011 chart a personal map of Europe's edges and their points of contact with Asia. Her particular working method has given rise to series such as Imagined States and Desires. A Balkan Journey; Black Sea. Between Chronicle and Fiction; Sweet Nothings: Schoolgirls of Eastern Anatolia; and Georgia. Seeds Carried by the Wind. All of them involve a movement from public to private space and from the immediacy of a specific event to the construction of a posed portrait.

In 2011 Winship was the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Henri Cartier-Bresson Prize for photography. Her winning project was she dances on Jackson. United States, a series that focuses on signs of the decline of the American Dream, visible in both the surface of the land and in human features and body language. In 2014, commissioned by FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE, Winship travelled to Almería (Spain) in order to represent its remarkable geographical diversity, rootlessness and variable fortunes and history. These last two projects reveal a progressive disappearance of human forms and the emergence of a landscape that becomes eloquent through its apparent silence and immobility. The sense of a frontier territory, the vulnerability of the land and the weight of the past suggested in Almería. Where Gold Was Found closely connect this region to the other parts of the world that have been the subject of Vanessa Winship's photographic gaze.

Exhibition opens May 30 until August 31st

Bárbara de Braganza Exhibition Hall / Calle Bárbara de Braganza / Madrid / Spain

Humber, 2010

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