|Jeff Winch [Sleep Walk] |
Represented by the David Scott Gallery on Strickland Ave, Sleep
Walk is an exhibition to display the work of Toronto photographer Jeff
To purchase the photography of
Jeff Winch, please contact:
David Scott Gallery
11 Strickland Avenue (Queen & Dufferin)
Toronto, Ontario M6K 3E6
Weekends, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Weekdays by appointment only.
Horse © Jeff Winch
Sleep Walk hovers in a space
that is between night and day, between photography and film, and what is
theatrical and natural. Scenes that would be considered decrepid by the light of
day are mysterious and alluring under the cover of night.
Through his investigation of found locations, Jeff Winch explores two
aspects of modern media, film and photography. Photography, like any other
medium has it's own cultural language and what Winch is appropriating is the
history of documentation. Everyday we are confronted with images like these,
images presented as evidence, photographs which depict the aftermath of an
event, but in this case, the details of the event are left to the interpretation
of the viewer.
Bathtub and Fruit Trees © Jeff Winch
By lighting these scenes as if they were film sets, Winch gives these
found and abandoned locations a monumental quality. He presents his images so
that the viewer forms an immediate connection to the space. Through movies,
television and live theatre we are all familiar with this style of lighting; we
recognize when our attention is being directed to what is 'important'. But what
is important, why are we focused on this scene? And if this is the scene, where
are the players?
In a sense the artist assumes this role. Winch is constantly in the scene
during the exposure of the photograph, he darts across illuminating the 'set',
creating this filmic experience with various lighting tools: popping flashes,
waving flash lights. The most effective images are those that suggest his
presence through the lighting but do not reveal it; as Winch slows his movement
throughout the exposure he runs the risk of being 'caught in the act'. In these
images a moment is frozen, breaking the temporal sense of an extended duration
of time expressed in the stronger images. The filmic quality is lost in these
moments when Winch's form is captured on film.
Trees, Slide and Gaz Cannisters © Jeff Winch
With the absence of human presence the objects depicted take on a strong
role, enriching the story of the image. Toys are a familiar subject of Winch's
work. Under the cover of night these playthings murmur with thoughts of loss,
not only the loss of childhood, innocence and whimsy but also of children. And
with the juxtaposition of toys and setting, the reading of these images is made
more complex. In one photograph colourful plastic toys are found among a peach
orchard, behind an old stone building. The plastic slide lends a pop art
attitude in this old-world setting reminiscent of some of the juxtapositions of
Raushenberg. Examples of the 'natural' the 'hand-made' and the 'mass produced'
lend a sense of displacement. Through contemporary culture there is such a
strong separation between 'old' and 'new'. Questions of belonging are presented
with a sinister component when it is recognized that between the child's slide
and the stone building are shelves of bottled gasoline products. These
photographs are filled with such cultural and material contradictions. Needless
to say, this is not an 'After School Special', this is reality where objects of
danger and objects of innocence are often inadvertently paired.
Chairs, Fire and Axe © Jeff Winch
The 'stage' of Two Chairs, Bonfire and Axe is set behind a dwelling with
lawn chairs, a roaring fire and an axe. Both the fire and the axe are tools
which furthered human dominance over the earth, both represent power. Fire, in
controlled settings, has many positive connotations, including warmth, comfort
and romance; where axe, once seen simply as a tool has been given more complex
notions. Partly from contemporary horror movies and tales of Lizzy Borden and
partly from the collective North American experience where many choose to buy
wood over chopping it. The absence of human characters haunt the scene with the
impending danger of an unattended fire and the position of the axe, it is not
passively laying in the grass but thrust into a tree stump with dynamic force.
Truck, Chairs and Boat © Jeff Winch
Once the sun has risen and the artist has disappeared these sites may
resonate with an entirely different sensibility because the power in Winch's
work is the way he presents these scenes to the viewer. With his technique he
leads the viewer through the image, highlighting the contradictions and the
invoking mystery through the play of light and shadow.
By Mia Nielsen, Curator, David Scott Gallery