Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne: At Altitude

I only recently discovered Mishka Henner, in the course of reading Robert Shore’s Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera, so when I heard that some of his works were on show in Eastbourne’s Towner Gallery, a 45-minute drive from me, I had to go and see them. As always, I was struck by how much more impressive the images are when seen in full size in a gallery-quality print than in a book, even though the reproductions in Shore are of an extremely high quality and a generous size compared to many similar photo books. There were actually only two Henner images in the exhibition, both from his Dutch Landscape series, taken from Google’s satellite images with pixellation added by the Dutch government to blot out locations it considers sensitive. As Henner has noticed, this pixellation not only draws attention to these sensitive locations, it also creates a readymade artwork.

As its title At Altitude suggests, aerial photography was the theme of the exhibition, which also included a diverse range of pieces ranging from some of the earliest photographs taken from hot air balloons to a supersized print of Wolfgang Tillmans’ End of Land, of a woman peering over the edge of Beachy Head. There were also several very engaging video installations including Tacita Dean’s A Bag of Air and 30km by Simon Faithfull, a bumpy and vertiginous film shot by a camera being carried to the margins of outer space by a weather balloon.

Although it was a fairly small exhibition, every piece was so interesting that I feel I need to visit again to do it all justice, and will do so perhaps later this week. But my overall takeaway from the show was the realisation that a fascinating and multilayered artwork can come from a very simple idea. This led me to the thought that my present feeling of being out of my depth and lacking creative insight, which has enveloped me since early on in the Context & Narrative module, is perhaps due to my current tendency to overthink things.

At Altitude is at Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne to 30 September 2018. For more information see townereastbourne.org.uk.

References and resources

Shore, R. (2014) Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd.