Issue #177  12/11/2010
Diemar/Noble Opens "Big Bucks, Big Bangs" Exhibit in January in London

Opening Friday, January 14, 2011, Diemar/Noble photography in London will present works by Geoffrey Short and Nikolai Ishchuk in the exhibition "Big Bucks, Big Bangs".

Short, who collaborates with special effects technicians to document images of controlled explosions, explores ideas of risk, beauty, terror and the sublime in his series. Ishchuk's images also explore the aesthetics of a subject matter which is usually ignored in light of its cultural currency--and in this series, the subject matter is just that: currency. The two photographers, using vastly different subject matter, are using photography to abstract, dissect, and examine in similar, highly-detailed ways.

Drawing on the philosophical contemplation of the inherent mystery and ultimate inevitability of death, Short's work, epic in production, brings together the aesthetics of terror and excitement, illusion and allusion. Using film industry special effect technicians, "big bangs" were created on the black sands of New Zealand's West Coast. The fuel explosion is part of the cinematic vocabulary of special effects and as such is a simulation of an unnatural terror. The explosion of fossil fuel (with all its geo-political associations) mixed with gunpowder (with its own history of war, plots and dangerous entertainment) makes for an unpredictable, dramatic and multi-layered imaging material.

Short's work is an interrogation of that material and an investigation into the differences between the live experience of an explosion and the two dimensional representation of it as an aesthetic object. He brings together the illusion, reinforced by the fine detail and the large scale of the photographs (up to 2.4 meters wide). The images allude to every explosion from the original big bang of creation to the anxiously anticipated big bang of a terrorist bomb or nuclear disaster.

The exhibition continues with 'Big Bucks,' a series by Nikolai Ishchuk. The over-sized photographic Lambda prints give money the abstract treatment by turning banknotes into large detailed and colorful canvases. Thus, they become totems, objects of worship and celebration, both exploiting and subverting the cult status of money.

Ishchuk points to money as a major abstract permeating our lives. Yet its abstract nature is deferred by established practical routines of using and thinking about it. Banknotes, as tangible representations of arbitrary value, are an exemplary embodiment of the resulting "cognitive gap." The images are recognizable as quasi-currency, yet due to color shifts, and size, they do not conform to the value reference system within which they would ordinarily be interpreted.

The images hint at an implied meaning or symbolism, but at the same time defer, if not altogether deny, many interpretational cues--both factual information (location, time) and visual information (clear focus, recognizable shapes) are complicated by Ishchuk's treatment. For him, the work is a comment on the mutable character of money, its endless transitions to and from various imaginary states (not unlike art itself), serving, among other things, as a metaphor for boom and bust, the bubbles and the crunches.

Exhibition dates are from January14-March 12, 2011. Gallery hours are 11 am- 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. There is a Private View, on Thursday, January13, 2011, from 6:30-8:30 pm. Diemar/Noble Photography is located at 66/67 Wells Street, London W1P 3PY; phone +44(0)07 636 5375; http://www.diemarnoble.com .