Oliver Frank Chanarin – A Perfect Sentence
Chanarin explores the drive for attention, the complexity of being seen and the anxiety of being overlooked, in photographic encounters across Britain.
Oliver Frank Chanarin's practice has long pushed against the edges of the photographic medium to interrogate dynamics of power and visibility, and challenge the ethics of documentary photography. Following the dissolution of the twenty-year creative partnership Broomberg & Chanarin, the artist's first solo project returns to an origin point: using the camera and the photographic encounter to speak towards, penetrate, and critique our lived experience. Drawing as much from August Sander as W. G. Sebald, Chanarin's photographic wanderings and auto-fictional experiments engage with the artist's subjectivity while querying the slippery terrain of documentary photography.
Chanarin often finds himself on the margins – from suburban fetish clubs to accident-faking ambulance chasers, or from amateur dramatics groups in church halls to gender activists protesting in the streets. In a country fragmented by political polarisation, pandemic isolation and the weaponisation of identity politics, Chanarin attempts to reconcile the eccentricity of Britishness with the pressing need for new forms of representation.
Like Chanarin's previous projects, A Perfect Sentence crisscrosses the line between discipline and chance: organised collaborative photoshoots with institutional partners give way to chance encounters with strangers and friends, missteps and wilful attempts at getting lost in the world, chaos in the darkroom, and self-critical texts. Chanarin refuses the authority of a final image, opting only to present in-progress darkroom prints that show the processes of correction, redaction and selection, the images refusing to resolve themselves. The Sisyphean and futile task of distilling a country onto the page becomes grist for the mill as Chanarin's candid images – sometimes uncomfortable and disquieting, elsewhere bucolically British – accrue and coagulate, like thick piled slabs of buttered toast.
Commissioned and produced by Forma in collaboration with eight UK organisations, A Perfect Sentence culminates in a series of regional exhibitions, in the series is presented in different iterations: from framed works continuously mounted and unmounted from the gallery walls by a robotic arm trained to respond to patterns of audience attention, to a suite of screenprints, to outdoor poster exhibitions.
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- Oliver Frank Chanarin (b. 1971) is an artist working primarily with photography. His work, though borne out of photography and a critical appropriation of photojournalism, culminates in different media including books, installation, sculpture and photography. Chanarin studied Artificial Intelligence as an undergraduate and held the position of Professor of Photography at the Hochschule für bildende Künste (HFBK) in Hamburg (2016-2022), and is also a founding member of the Masters programme in photography at The Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Netherlands.
Chanarin is one half of the duo Broomberg & Chanarin, whose work is held in major public and private collections including Pompidou, Tate, MoMA, Yale, Stedelijk, Jumex in Mexico DF, Victoria and Albert Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Cleveland Museum of Art and Baltimore Museum of Art. Awards include the ICP Infinity Award (2014), the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2013) and the Arles Photo-Text Award (2018). Publications include Ghetto (Trolley, 2003), Fig. (Steidl/Photoworks, 2007), People in Trouble Laughing Pushed to the Ground (MACK, 2011), War Primer 2 (MACK, 2011/2018), and Holy Bible (MACK / AMC, 2013).
- 200 pages, 170 × 230 mm, 120 colour plates
Section-sewn softcover with texts by the artist throughout
Designed and Published by Loose Joints Studio
LJ184, June 2023
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