Published May 2, 2023 : Book review by Joe Charrington, Picnic

Rural Sweden, a lonely monolith of aged wood stands in a field. What a banal image. Except, it’s not really that lonely, not if you were capable of observing it like some kind of omni-present guardian.

Stephen Gill, a name known to many from such works as Hackney Flowers and Archaeology in Reverse, has become this omni-present observer of the weald through none other than the classic wildlife camera. By setting up this wildlife camera Gill’s photographs are determined by chance interactions instead of intentional clicks of a shutter that would have been made by Gill himself. It brings forward questions like ‘who is the author of these photographs?’ And ‘will this White-tail Sea Eagle, notably the largest bird in Sweden, want authorship credit?’ A very intriguing process!

This hushed observational detachment from what I suppose you’d call classical photography (?)… Well, you know, the ‘Finger on button’ type of photography leaves us stationary as we watch nature marching past, unfolding its sometimes brutal talons around a single wooden pillar.

When I first read The Pillar I found myself coming to a halt on certain pages, not being able to physically turn to the next page. I was fixated on the photograph in front of me as if it had some kind of power over me, like I too was stuck as a pillar in the ground, open for all things to pass around me. This is still the case. There are certain feelings I get from bodies of work that employ what scientists call ‘constants’, something that persists as life wraps around it. You can see this in projects such as TTP by Hayahisa Tomiyasu where the constant is a Table Tennis table, and Gill’s other body of work A series of disappointments where it is the betting slip.

You can come and enjoy this wonderful book in Picnic, amongst a wide selection of others.

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CATEGORIES : Book Reviews | Ezine | Ezine #7

Review by Joe Charrington, Picnic : @joecharrington
Images from The Pillar by Steven Gill
Library enquiries to @picnic_on_sea
40 Marina (shop), St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex TN38 0BU

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