SA photographer presents ‘Drow

SA photographer presents ‘Drowning World’ at Tiwani Contemporary

Gideon Mendel’s exhibition is part of a long-term project documenting flooding in various parts of the globe including England, India, Haiti and Nigeria. The exhibition runs in London from 7 June – 27 July 2013.

SA photographer presents ‘Drow

7) Wisdom & Lilian Ginikawan 2012 (Medium)

Tiwani Contemporary presents ‘Drowning World’, an exhibition by South African photographer Gideon Mendel, from Friday 7 June to Saturday 27 July 2013.

Drowning World is part of a long-term project documenting flooding in various parts of the globe including England, India, Haiti and Nigeria. This exhibition, the first in a UK gallery for the artist, features unseen photographs from the Drowning World series, with a focus on Nigeria.

The artist portrays climate change through portraits of flood survivors in the remains of their homes, emphasising the collective experience of environmental disaster, erasing geographical and cultural divides. The photographs suggest the aesthetics of portraiture; yet push the boundaries by staging in unlikely environments.

The selection includes 15 images taken in Nigeria that have never been exhibited, and five photographs documenting flooding in various parts of the globe including England, India, Haiti and Australia.
1) Adlene Pierre 2008 (Medium)The exhibition also presents a two‐part video of people living amidst floodwaters in Bangkok, as well as video portraits of Nigerian inhabitants returning to their flooded homes. Drowning World is a poignant depiction of climate change through portraits of flood survivors taken in deep floodwaters, within the remains of their homes, or in submerged landscapes, in the stillness of once lively environments.

Keeping their composure, the subjects pause in front of Mendel’s camera, casting an unsettling, yet engaging gaze. These images, taken across the globe demonstrate a shared experience that erases geographical and cultural divides.

They invite the viewer to reflect on the impact on nature by humankind, and attachment to our homes and personal belongings.

Beyond the documentary aspect of this project, Mendel subtly treads on the aesthetics of portraiture, yet pushes the boundaries by staging the photographs in unlikely environments. Each portrait isolates individuals, couples or small groups that would otherwise be represented by statistics. The portraits also reveal personality and status through clothes, style and even elegance.

As well as representing destruction, water also contributes to the creative process. Washed out pigments create new painterly patterns, damaged films produce soft tones and mysterious haze, while architecture and landscape are reflected in The Sparkling Natural mirror.  The selection compiled for this exhibition highlights the confusion of senses between the sight of landscapes of desolation and the attractiveness of colours and compositions. It seeks to examine the tension between drama and picturesque, and the fine line between documentary and artistic imagery.

4) Toll Bar Village near Doncaster 2007 (1) (Medium)About the artist

Gideon Mendel was born in Johannesburg in 1959 and studied psychology and African history at the University of Cape Town. Following his studies he became a freelance photographer, documenting change and conflict in South Africa in the lead-up to Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.

In 1990 he moved to London. He first began documenting the impact of Aids in Africa in 1993, and and in in the past 20 years his work on this issue has been widely recognised. His awards include six World Press Photo Awards and the Amnesty International Media Award for Photojournalism.

Part of his Drowning World series was shown at Somerset House, London in May 2012 and will be included in A Different Kind of Order, The ICP Triennial, New York (17 May — 8 September 2013).

About the curator

Christine Eyene is an art historian, critic and curator. Born in Paris in 1970, she studied History of Contemporary Art at Université Paris. She has been researching modern and contemporary South African art since the late 1990s,specialising in the story of artists in exile during apartheid and their cultural interactions with the Black Diaspora in France and England. She is currently Guild Research Fellow — Contemporary Art, at the University of Central Lancashire.

Drowning World will run from 7 June — 27 July 2013 at Tiwani Contemporary, a young and dynamic gallery based in Fitzrovia focusing on contemporary artists from Nigeria.

Tiwani Contemporary Art Connect event:

In conversation with Gideon Mendel, 27 June 2013 from 6.30 to 8:30pm.

Rsvp to