The Man Who Looked Back

Oak Display Stands; Hessian-covered display screens; Archive Photographs and Film Stills mounted on Card; Clips; Pins

This work continues my fascination with the work of the German art historian Aby Warburg, and how his method of displaying images might suggest the making new art works as much as the consideration of old ones. Warburg was interested in ‘looking back’, and in the recurrence of certain forms, such as physical gestures, and so copies of a number of images from the Warburg Institute photographic library were obtained which related to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a story full of gesture, and in which the consequences of looking back are tragic rather than contemplative. Alongside these, I have placed stills taken from Chris Marker's 1963 masterpiece, La Jetée, which, I would suggest, might also be considered a version of the Orpheus myth, albeit here the return to the loved one results in the death of the man, rather than the woman. All of these images were displayed in the manner of Warburg's ‘Mnemosyne Atlas’.

Commissioned by Camden Art Centre for the exhibition Never the Same River (Possible Futures, Probable Pasts), curated by Simon Starling.