Geoffrey Farmer : The Surgeon and the Photographer can be seen at the Curve gallery, Barbican until July 28th. Using old books and magazines, Farmer creates collaged puppets which are displayed in a darkened room. The low light gives the figures an intensity, and draws the viewer into an intimate space in which all is not what it at first appears. Peering closely, the viewer discovers strange combinations of limbs and artifacts that are combined to create 365 puppets. The curved space in which they are shown means the figures are not seen all at once and form a procession through the gallery. In the background a soundtrack accompanies the figures, and seems to amplify a sense of time and distance. Footsteps,and the snip of scissors, a click of a camera shutter all adds to the expereince.
Farmer set himself the task of creating a puppet for each day of the year, and began by cutting images from subjects such as art and natural history, ethnography, and popular culture. They are then carefully assembled weaving the artifacts and figures from the past with contemporary images. Some are beautifully minimal, while others become layered and more complex. Dieties, shamens, tricksters, and shape shifting creatures with masks, wands and staffs, abound.
The work has been created over a three year period, and is well worth a visit. It continues until 28th July. It would be shame to miss this opportunity! Entry is free.
Geoffrey Farmer, detail from The Surgeon and the Photogragher
Paper, textile, wood, and metal.
"At first they look timeless, as puppets often do. Their bodies are not much more than cloth tailored to hint at a dancer's frock, a farmer's overalls or the habit of a priest. then it seems that time is scrambled... Each figure is compelling in a quite different way. This one looks like a sketch come alive, that one like an animated statue. There are heavyweight presences - leaders, intellectuals, warriors, - alongside the flimsiest sprites. What they have in common is simply their mutual condition, a sort of parallel life to humanity"
Laura Cumming, The Observer 7th April 2012
Images are from Casey Kaplan Gallery
Details of the show can be found at Barbican Centre