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Alison Dalwood (UK)

Room, Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin
Lambda photo print Diasec mounted, 60 x 45 cm, 2008

Alison Dalwood’s images are not what they at first appear to be. In the series Alte Nationalgalerie, she appropriates odd corners of the museum exchanging the paintings on show for virtual mirrors that mimic reflections of non-existent windows. Transparent paper constructions staged for the final photograph continue the illusion, but in a different direction, giving shape to light and casting shadows in the virtual space of the photograph.

In the physical installation experienced by the viewer, the representation of a mirror becomes a reality. Dalwood mounts the photograph behind an intensely reflective surface causing a cinematic effect that captures the surrounding space and the movement it contains. The viewer becomes the photographer: the final image exists only in the eye – a fleeting visual construction of the circumstances of light and movement, not in the object itself but in the way it is seen. Dalwood emphasises individual perception over a predetermined experience and begs the fundamental questions – where is the work of art, how does it relate to the context in which it is located and how does it relate to you, the viewer?

“Although I use photographs of places, I don’t focus on the narratives that could be developed from them. I look for spatial qualities and sculptural characteristics that suggest another ‘volume’, an illusion of space on the other ‘side’ of the surface. This ‘other’ space has the effect of making you aware of the space you are in and conscious of yourself. So there are parallel spaces – and these are also parallel times - simultaneously past, present and future.”

By exploring the ironic potential of digitally manipulated photography, Dalwood leads us to be conscious of the experience of looking - as a spectator physically confronting the work, and as a spectator of other spectators in the museum or gallery. In this ambiguous location somewhere between reality and fiction, between the artwork and the context that frames it, Dalwood prompts a moment of hyper-awareness drawing the viewer in to grapple with a series of perceived and represented realities. Her intention is to alert the viewer to some new and unexpected sensibility, some new connection between what is seen and felt and what is understood.

“The thing that interests me is the possibility of the subject existing outside the image, outside the plastic structure and, instead, in between the surface and viewer. It doesn’t matter if all the metaphors and devices I am using are understood or even recognized. The experience of attempting to decipher these layers of space is finally the subject.”


Alison Dalwood born in Pontypool / UK, lives and works in Oxford and London / UK


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