I attended the opening of “Unsettled” last week in the Copper House Gallery on Synge Street. The gallery which acts as a showcase storefront by the in-house printers, Fire, is small in nature but always packs a punch in terms of quality and this visit was the single most impressive of all.
Pateer’s focus is razor sharp and targets the consequences of industrial expansion on the Belgian village of Doel in this breakthrough series shot over five years. The project manifests itself as a series of landscapes and environmental portraits, several of which take on a tableau quality due to the cinematic nature of the series in general.
It’s hard to fault the images when it comes to the technical side of things. The shots were all processed, printed and mounted with near fetishistic perfectionism and pay off as such with gold stars and viewer satisfaction. In terms of aesthetic quality, this is near flawless.
It’s important however to understand that the thematic of the series acts as more of a vehicle to develop a series of photos rather than the reverse option of using photography as a catalyst to highlight an issue close to the heart of the artist. This isn’t an approach I fault the artist for, rather I feel it’s simply a critical point to note when assessing a piece of work. As a conceptual artist, I think Pateer’s work stands up against the best in the field, but she bills herself with the documenartian label in artist statements and I think there are several bridges that must be crossed before anything like that is applicable here. The chosen topic lacks structure and is just too amorphous to be tackled in the way Pateer has adressed it. As a piece of art, I love this. As a study of industrial expansion, I’m reserving judgement until it can stand up with any point of persuasion.
Additionally, I will mail an exhibition catalogue (one of the best I’ve ever seen, basically just a small softcover book/zine) to one person chosen at random who reblogs this post.