Gerard Byrne
Loch Ness series, 2002
In The Time series, 2002

NicolaFornello gallery presents edited sequences from two distinct photographic projects by Gerard Byrne, “In the News” and “Loch Ness” sequence. 

Loch Ness is a related but distinct project, which is a meditation of sorts, on a chapter in the history of the “mass-media”. The project consists of an understated photographic exploration of the infamous Loch, which immediately contrasts with the hysterical accounts of Loch Ness and it’s wildlife long established as a sub-genre of pulp newspapers. On closer inspection Byrne’s photographs are in fact, riddled with innuendo, on multiple levels simultaneously. Many photographs seem to depict inscrutable goings-on, as if Byrne is uncovering the messy local business of the fabricating of mysteries for gullible outsiders. On another level, many of the photographs seem to somehow optically mis-take elements of the place as potentially monstrous, trees somehow taking on serpentine forms. Through use of accompanying texts, Byrne establishes a historical trajectory for the Loch Ness phenomenon as more or less a creation of the mass-circulation newspapers, circa 1933, roughly corresponding with the historically recognised moment of the germination of cultural self-awareness of the mass-media age. Byrne’s project then, is an exploration of the emergence of a fantasy of the primeval, at precisely the moment of coming into being of the mass media, and a reflection of the various roles of photography within that history. 

In the News is an ongoing accrual of diverse photographic images, edited and re-edited on each occasion it is shown. The project is not constituted through a fixed selection of images, but rather through the establishment and revision of an ongoing approach to photography. “In the News”, as the title indicates, situates the photographic sequence within the realm of the topical, the newsworthy, the anecdotal. Each photograph is accompanied not by a title, but by what can most aptly be called a caption, by virtue of it’s apparent impetus to articulate each image, as well as by Byrnes commitment to on-going revisions of each text. Byrnes role in relation to “In the News” could be described as akin to the work of a newspaper photo editor, prepared to revise and reconfigure for each later edition as the news demands. Ultimately however, “In the News” points to the obstinate refusal of photographs to be instrumentalised through language, rather taking pleasure in the inert optical relations between each photograph and the social milieu each invokes.

Recent shows: Solo show at Frankfurter Kunstverein. 8th Istanbul Biennale, 2003, “The American Effect”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Forthcoming shows: BAK, Basis voor Actuelle Kunst, Utrecht (Solo), Feb. 2004. “Books, magazines, and some Newspapers”  a publication on the artists work is forthcoming from Lukas & Sternberg, New York. The publication contains a major essay by George Baker, Professor of Art History at University of California, Los Angeles.

GALLERIA NICOLAFORNELLO /Antonella Nicola-Enrico Fornello, Prato
GERARD BYRNE, Loch Ness, In The Time
November 22nd, 2003