Light Work features exhibit by British photographer Max Kandhola
Light Work features exhibit by British photographer Max KandholaSeptember 23, 2002Mary Lee Hodgensmlhodgen@syr.edu
“Illustration of Life,” an exhibition of the work of British photographer Max Kandhola, continues on display in the Light Work Gallery, located in the Robert B. Menschel Media Center, though Oct. 13. A lecture by Kandhola will be held at Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. in Shemin Auditorium, located in the Shaffer Art Building. A reception for the artist will be held Oct. 4 from 6-8 p.m. at Light Work.
The exhibition includes 48 inkjet prints documenting the death of Kandhola’s father (Sarwan Singh Kandhola, 1928-1998) in the brief moments before and just after his death. For the past 10 years, Kandhola has been creating haunting images of death, decay and loss. Having experienced the death of both parents, a brother and a close personal friend, the artist has used his photography as a method for processing grief. “Illustration of Life” confronts its viewers with the trauma of seeing the body deteriorate.
Kandhola’s detached and clinical gaze shows a process in intimate detail. In the two years leading up to his father’s death, Kandhola spent much of his time in the hospital at his father’s bedside, documenting traces of hair, blood, urine samples and various body parts, including hands, feet and eyes, both closed and open. In carefully editing this large body of work the artist presents the viewer with a series of moments to pause and look at the reality of death.
The exhibition catalogue, Contact Sheet 118, includes essays by Kandhola, Gary Hesse, associate director of Light Work and Mark Sealy, director of Autograph, a London-based arts organization dedicated to promoting the work of black artists living and working in the U.K. Sealy writes in his essay, “Max Kandhola’s work has been associated with death for some time. Those familiar with it will know that death is a theme he has visited on several occasions. His need to make this work does not come from a macabre compulsion to shock. But arrives from a desire to address the inevitable ending that most of us refuse to acknowledge. As his work progresses its not surprising that the intensity of his personal experiences is taking precedence. In this series of photographs we are forced to address our future and resign to our past.”
Kandhola writes, “The images were made in the last four hours of my father’s life. He passed away as I was taking the photographs. I did not realize that he had gone until the nurse placed her hand on my shoulder. I looked away from the camera’s viewfinder then around the room to find that it was now full of my family. From the silence of my camera’s viewpoint the atmosphere changed to that of mass hysteria. It would never be the same again.”
Illustration of Life was funded in part by the British Arts Council; Nottingham Trent School of Art and Design, U.K; Autograph ABP, U.K.; Impressions Gallery, York, U.K. and Dewi Lewis Publishing, London, among others.
Kandhola lives in London and Birmingham, England, and teaches photography at Nottingham Trent University. He has exhibited his work internationally, including, The National Portrait Gallery, London; NAFOTO Festival, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt, Germany, and Barbara Greene Fine Art, New York. Kandhola has also worked within the fashion and music industry; most notably in 1994 he designed and photographed UB40’s Promises and Lies Album. He is a member of Autograph ABP, the Association of Black Photographers and is a board member of the Rhubarb Rhubarb International Photography Festival in the United Kingdom.
The Light Work Gallery is located in the Robert B. Menschel Media Center, 316 Waverly Ave. Gallery hours are Sunday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.