Outposts: Donovan Wylie

@ the National Media Museum.
Included images from the Maze series. His Machine dissecting another machine. Control. A maze. Controlling space. Separation. Fragments. Reductions. Neutral methodical style. The content is not neutral. This whole exhibition is of machines for control. Holding space. Camera & subject. His images of fortifications. Modern takes on romantic landscapes. The waters muddied. Knights are human. Good and evil. Now only greys? He witnesses these machines. They are fragile for all their strength. They will pass. A Russian map of Afghanistan sits in the afghan pictures. Reminder. Empires clinging. Passing. These sites used previously. the English before, the Russians others. High points. Northern Ireland. The war at home ? Points to hold. Military architecture. Systems. Images are large suggesting detail. Placing power in a landscape. Small against the fields and people that inhabit the large world outside the small compounds. Afghanistan and the Irish borderlands are similar. Colour palettes vary. Winter desert shots. Dust grey yellows vs the moors and bracken. Greens. Political situations effect the architecture. Permanence. The long haul. History. Commitment. Repeated forms. Form & function. How can we feel about such images? They are not beautiful. They do not tell us of a warrior nobility. Or heroes. Just the repetition of history. Was reminded of the Norfolk & Burke exhibition. Too close? Too familiar? Different too. It’s not to say I didn’t find these images interesting. What we have seen before changes what we see now. It informs and alters context.
The exhibition included a number of interviews with Wylie. Talking about how worked in these different environments. How he found ways into his subjects. Stumbling on new angles. Hearing him talking about his work is inspiring. Images that influenced him. Evans. Trying to see the titles on his shelves. All the classics. His love of images, the level of engagement. His two portfolios, one to the Belfast Telegraph and one to Magnum. He never heard from the Telegraph. Magnum got back to him. The passion and excitement.

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Filed under Dec 2011, Thoughts

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