Mark Hall: “Horizons” photography exhibition at the SACI Gallery, July 4-29, 2016

Mark Hall, "Horizon #9" (Florence, Italy)

Mark Hall, “Horizon #9” (Florence, Italy)

Mark Hall: Horizons

July 4 – 29, 2016

Opening: Monday, July 4 at 6pm

Mark Hall has been an advertising and editorial photographer since the mid 1980’s.  He now undertakes private commissions and teaches the subject at University level. Hall is a Senior Lecturer BA (Hons) of Commercial Photography at the University of Derby, UK. He holds an MA in Photography from the London College of Printing.

More recently, Hall has begun publishing journal articles and writing on the subject of photography and is an active researcher. His specific area of interest is in Light and Control and its relationship with photography. Mark is also currently working on a book about the theoretical framework surrounding Commercial Photography. He has traveled widely on every continent, most recently to Tanzania and Mozambique. The photographs exhibited in the SACI Gallery are details that reflect a trip to Tuscany, to Florence and the seaside earlier this year.

“Perhaps all that is left of the world is a wasteland covered with rubbish heaps, and the hanging garden of the Great Khan’s palace. It is our eyelids that separate them, but we cannot know which is inside and which is outside.” (Calvino, I, 1974 P.104)

Artist Statement

I visited Florence in March of this year with a group of students and asked them, while they were here, to consider the writings of Italo Calvino, in particular Invisible Cities (Calvino, I (1974) Invisible Cities, Vintage Classics. London). Although Calvino was writing principally about his home city of Venice, many visiting other cities in Italy would find words that resonate, and so it was with me. Having visited Florence many times each time it appears different, the city itself changes little. Faces still tilt upwards to the sky in wonder at the way the light wraps itself around a sculpture or reflects a divine light from the marble of the Duomo, to proclaim the glory of Brunelleschi and di Cambio’s achievement. As I wandered the tall, shadowed streets I was always aware that Florence like many cities does not give up its secrets easily. The walls of the streets are high and the windows dark, giving nothing away. It is a city of contrasts from cool, dark, shady streets that spill into vivid sunlit squares to the imposing scale of the doors, that do not encourage the caller to enter.

When Florence was built by Julius Caesar around 59BC he intended it to be a garrison, however, in the 14th Century, by contrast, it became the birthplace of the Renaissance and a hub of artistic and intellectual thought for the next three hundred years.

Calvino writes in Cities and Desire 3, of how he imagines Marco Polo, the merchant explorer, in a conversation to Kublai Khan, the Mongol Emperor, describing the city of Despina as presenting two “faces” to travelers who arrive by land or sea. Each sees the city as an embodiment of the other. The camel driver sees a ship, and the sailor sees a camel as Calvino plays with the idea of multiple ways of seeing when confronted with the same materiality. The city thus becomes an object of desire for the traveler, always seen at a distance on the horizon. The boundary between one existence and another is separated by both environment and desire. When taking a photograph one often does not look directly at the subject but sees its corrected form in a mirror, separating the photographer from the material form in front of him or her. This division or fracture is something I examined in this work boundaries which are on one hand porous appearing to be solid or solid appearing to be porous “like a sheet of paper, with a figure on either side, which can neither be separated nor look at each other.” P.105

In the opening image from the series Despina on the horizon appears a boat but in the foreground are waves of darkness appearing in the calm. Despina is the city as possibility, but these possibilities are dependent on which face of the city you see. If your ways of seeing enable you subtly shift your perspective, you can cross the border between two deserts, and see the other face of the city and the opportunities it provides.

Calvino tells us that it is the people who are the ones able to move around and through cities, in doing so creating different perspectives for themselves.

mark-hall-san-salvi

Mark Hall, San Salvi Psychiatric Hospital, Florence #3

San Salvi

At the former asylum of San Salvi which closed its doors finally in 1998 there are many borders, some are physical, doors, windows, fences and walls some are virtual like the limits of our understanding of mental illness in all of its forms. The inmates are long gone and some of the buildings have undergone a transformation but the borders still remain. I wandered around the building and was reminded

Windows, like eyelids, can be opened or closed to allow the passage of light to enter a room. Its perpendicular flight can be contorted, twisted and reflected in its passage to hushed corners or steepled into horrifying shapes by the mind. As Marco Polo reminds us it is the eye that choses to see either ugliness or beauty “Perhaps all that is left of the world is a wasteland covered with rubbish heaps, and the hanging garden of the Great Khan’s palace. It is our eyelids that separate them, but we cannot know which is inside and which is outside.” (Calvino, I, 1974 P.104)

Mark Hall, "Moriana"

Mark Hall, “Moriana”

Horizons

Horizons represent the limits of our vision, our knowledge of the visible world. Photographs have this too; they expand knowledge or limit it within their strange confined spaces. Perspective gives the appearance expanding or limiting our vision and understanding. These line in an image can direct, coerce tease and frustrate and, like the city of Moriana whose beauty depends entirely on which way one approaches the city the image too can have a surface beauty however the beauty or ugliness resides in the experience and memory of the viewer.

Horizons show up inherent flaws in both two dimensional representations and a monocular viewpoint. Horizons appear hard and fixed within the frame but the division is illusory just as the representation of past and present convenes within the image, this too is an illusion. The duration of the exposure has a beginning and an end and therefore, two distinct points which are temporally separated. This becomes most apparent when light from two sources (ambient light and flash) combine to produce the appearance of a singular point which may itself be layered, each layer whose visibility, like the surface of a lake, is sometimes is transparent, sometimes opaque. Each vision therefore is fractured by another, none complete but, like the image itself it provides a border between the visible and the imaginary between the material and the dematerialized offering hope, but a partial vision of that future corrupted by the construction of others.

©MH2016

Mark Hall has been an advertising and editorial photographer since the mid 1980’s.  He now undertakes private commissions and teaches the subject at University level. Hall is a Senior Lecturer BA (Hons) of Commercial Photography at the University of Derby, UK. He holds an MA in Photography from the London College of Printing.

More recently, Hall has begun publishing journal articles and writing on the subject of photography and is an active researcher. His specific area of interest is in Light and Control and its relationship with photography. Mark is also currently working on a book about the theoretical framework surrounding Commercial Photography. He has traveled widely on every continent, most recently to Tanzania and Mozambique. The photographs exhibited in the SACI Gallery are details that reflect a trip to Tuscany, to Florence and the seaside earlier this year.

www.hallmarkimaging.co.uk

www.hallmarkimaging.co.uk

SACI logo

SACI Gallery
Palazzo dei Cartelloni
Via Sant’Antonino 11, Florence – ITALY
T 055 289 948

Open: Monday – Friday, 9am – 7pm
Saturday & Sunday 1pm-7pm
Admission is free.

www.saci-florence.edu

About SACI

SACI is a US non-profit College of Art and Design in Florence, Italy, for undergraduate and graduate students seeking accredited instruction in studio art, design, conservation, art history, and Italian language and culture. Founded in 1975, SACI offers the following programs: Academic Semester/Year Abroad, Late Spring & Summer Studies, Venice Summer Program, Post-Bac in Conservation, Post-Bac in Studio Art; MFA in Studio Art, MFA in Photography, MFA in Communication Design, Low-Residency MFA in Studio Art, MA in Art History.

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