Jim Naughten at Klompching Gallery
Klompching Gallery was pleased to present Animal Kingdom, an exhibition of contemporary stereoscope photographs by British photographer, Jim Naughten. This exhibition forms the artist’s third solo show with the gallery, and is accompanied by the release of his new monograph, Animal Kingdom, published by Prestel.
The Animal Kingdom project brings together a stunning exploration of Victorian and Edwardian Natural History specimens, utilizing the process of stereoscopy—developed in the 1800s to create the illusion of viewing photographic images in three dimensions. The enjoyment of stereoscope cards was hugely popular from the 1850s, through to the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, and is often likened in popularity to that of television in the 1950s–1960s.
Naughten brings stereoscopy into contemporary art, producing photographs large enough to hang on the wall, and view as a shared experience. He has successfully constructed the photographs, so that they can be appreciated just as they are, or in full 3-dimensions with the use of a stereoscope viewer.
"Jim Naughten is an artist who understands the transformative effects that photography can have on a subject. They are captivating enough even when seen in two dimensions. But once you plunge into the marvel of their stereoscopic depth you are transfixed. Through the act of viewing, an intangible transformation takes place. While the photographs exist in physical form on paper, they also live as an experience, a beautiful illusion held in the mind".—Martin Barnes Senior Curator of Photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
For his subject, the artist gained access to the collections held by several museums in the United Kingdom, including the Oxford Museum of Natural History, Museum of Life Sciences, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, and the Horniman Museum and Gardens among others. The choice of subject stems from the artist’s boyhood fascination with museum dioramas, depicting all manner of once-lived specimens, and also serves as a wonderful marriage between art and science. Naughten made an impressive 50 photographs, incorporating ten each of sea creatures, reptiles, mammals, birds and primates.
This is a stunning series, that also brings about a celebration of the joy of looking, a three-dimensional world in which relative scale becomes ambiguous, where one is forced to be attentive to a single subject and where the impression of time passing slips away.
This joy of looking is extended to the artist’s newest photographs, Dinosaur Island—a series of stereoscopes, that re-present the dinosaurs made by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, for theCrystal Palace Exhibition of 1853–54, and which remain on display to this day. At the time of their mid-nineteenth century debut, they captivated audiences and brought dinosaurs to the center of the public eye. More than a century later, we now know, of course, that the knowledge of dinosaur anatomy from that time was rather far-off from what paleontologists have since learned. With the introduction of saturated colors by the artist, the dinosaurs are hyper-surreal, akin to fantastical Hollywood B-movies. Underpinning this, is how the photographs remind us to question scientific knowledge and scientific truth.
The exhibition brings together the re-imagining of real zoological specimens, with a re-interpretation of nineteenth century imagining of long-extinct specimens. The exhibition is an adept, thoughtful and stunning body of work that continues the artist’s wider interest in the re-animation of historical subjects.
Jim Naughten (British, b. 1969) was awarded a painting scholarship to Lancing College and later studied photography at the Arts Institute of Bournemouth. Naughten’s work has been featured in a number of exhibitions and he is the recipient of several awards, including a commendation from The National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. His first series, Re-enactors, was published as a monograph in 2009 (Hotshoe Books), and the widely acclaimed Hereros series was published by Merrell (2013). In 2015, Jim Naughten released his third body of work, Animal Kingdom, followed with the release of the monograph, Animal Kingdom (Prestel, 2016).
Klompching Gallery was established 2007, and specializes in the sale and exhibition of contemporary fine art photography. The gallery represents an international roster of established artists, whose work can be found in several notable public and private collections. Located in Dumbo, Brooklyn, the gallery showcases photography that demonstrates creative integrity and intent, originality, narrative and aesthetic challenges, and the highest level of craftsmanship. Klompching Gallery is a member of AIPAD since 2012, and exhibits each year at the New York Photography Show at the Park Avenue Armory. In addition to its exhibitions schedule, the gallery provides detailed, bespoke acquisition services to collectors of contemporary photographs. Animal Kingdom will form Jim Naughten’s third solo show at the gallery, following Re-enactors (2010) and Hereros (2013).
Jim Naughten: Animal Kingdom is on view at Klompching Gallery until May 28, 2016 at 89 Water st, Brooklyn, NY
Thumbnail image: ©Jim Naughten, King Colobus, 2015 / Courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York