Anglim Gilbert Gallery is pleased to present Hannah Collins’ work, The Interior and the Exterior - Noah Purifoy, an installation of black and white photographs accompanied by sound.
The portfolio of 18 gelatin silver prints was conceived by the acclaimed British artist as an homage to the California artist Noah Purifoy (1917 - 2004). Her images document the oversized sculptures remotely sited in the Mohave Desert that Purifoy created in the last years of his life. Collins took the black and white photographs with a plate camera, resulting in an insightful, honorific visual essay on this remarkable form of personal, recorded history. Finding kindred inspiration in Walker Evans’ photographic series and book, Message from the Interior, she acknowledges and adapts the portfolio model, referencing the spatial layout and typography of the iconic volume.
It is inevitable when photographing such structures that Walker Evans’ earlier view of the American vernacular comes to the surface. Evans’ view of the South was that of an outsider. Purifoy’s vision was drawn from his life. Both come from periods of American history in transformation.
Collins visited the Joshua Tree Outdoor Museum when teaching at the University of California, Davis, discovering a poetic form of grandeur in Purifoy’s imposing, architectural structures. In her gallery presentation, Collins’ photographs form an installation capturing the static assemblage constructions in their evolving state as we, the viewers, contemplate their meaning and tenuous future— subject to the harsh conditions of the desert. The photographic installation, originating at The Camden Arts Centre in London, has toured to other venues. Collins describes Purifoy’s creations:"By recycling found materials he created visual references that stretched back to his childhood — the shacks, churches and graveyards of the South, the trains that went west, the segregated washrooms and buses, the yard-sales, and burnt down buildings left by the Watt’s rebellion. The monuments are sited to create a map of stark meanings."
Collins’ installation has a sound component with interviews, recorded herself in a format she developed with technician Chris Forrest, on the life and activist times of Purifoy by Ed Ruscha, members of the Black Panther Party and other artistic contemporaries. Collins speaks of the time when she encountered Purifoy’s work in the desert and how she was moved to record its experience: "It was work that should be done now, as the people on the soundtrack are all very old, and many people whom I would like to have interviewed have died.
On the soundtrack, there are voices of artists who worked alongside Purifoy, such as John Outterbridge and Judson Powell. What emerged out of the work was the recounting of a series of events, such as the Watts Rebellion in 1965. Through the interviews, I explored issues that I knew little about. One could spend a whole lifetime exploring those issues, and others have. What came out of it was a sense that, at that time, it was possible to take action, which now seems unbelievably difficult to do. So it was a period of immense activity and that was reflected in the work that Purifoy did at the end of his life." - interview with artist, Studio International, July 2015. British artist Hannah Collins studied at London’s Slade School of Art and received a Fulbright scholarship to study in the U.S. She was awarded the European Photography Award in 1991 and in 1993 was nominated for the Turner prize. In 2015 a solo exhibition of her work was presented at the Camden Arts Centre and she was the winner of the Spectrum International Prize for Photography from the Foundation of Lower Saxony. Steidl is publishing Collins’ The Interior and the Exterior - Noah Purifoy as a book this year. Anglim Gilbert Gallery will present this exhibition in Gallery 200 at the Minnesota Street Project in the Dogpatch arts district.