Photographs by Jem Southam.
Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2005. 150 pp., 90 color photos, 12½x11½".
“To photograph is to garden, to organize the natural world around a set of a priori principles.” In this last sentence of a particularly lucid introductory essay, Andy Grundberg summarizes a theoretical structure upon which to base an understanding of what happens, internally, when we photograph. Gardening is the perfect metaphor, not only for those creative processes in general—implying a collaboration between Nature and her tender—but for Southam’s work in particular. He photographs southwest England, a landscape that has been worked and re-worked by human hands for centuries, choosing to enter into the landscape tradition fully aware of the variety of modes of representation that beset its past. He avoids what Grundberg calls ‘celebratory’ pictures of the land, preferring instead to present images of rivers and rocks and shrubbery, and also man’s domestic responses to his surroundings, the stone walls, domesticated animals, and cut flowers of countryfolk. Work from several series is presented, including Red River, Rockfalls, Rivermouths, Ponds, Upton Pyne and various Other Stories. - Darius Himes
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