The Ravestijn Gallery presents work by two artists for her upcoming show at The Amsterdam Art Fair: Veronica Bailey (UK, 1965) and Phillipe Braquenier (Belgium, 1985). Both artists are concerned with the way humans store their knowledge and information. They remind us that digital (such as the cloud, harddisks) as well as analogue (books, libraries) modes of storage are subject to different forms of decay, meaning a wealth of archives could be lost to us beyond retrieval, endangering large parts of our collective memory. What would be required to prevent these data from being obliterated, is a question each artist addresses with a unique and distinguishing personal approach. In their photographs, Bailey’s of historical books, Braquenier’s of digital and analogue information depots, they invite the viewer to reflect on the meaning the potential loss of data and information has to our own lives. While Bailey focuses on the materiality of antique books and the historical, personal relationships they might represent, Braquenier makes the intertwining of natural landscapes with technology and the various material conditions of data in our age visible. Their work presents an intricate overview of the role photography plays in making our relationship to the storage and preservation of data, both analogue and digital, more insightful.
Philippe Braquenier (BE, 1985)
In Palimpsest Braquenier bears witness of both changing landscapes and traditional archival places in relation to the status of information depots in our technological and digitised age. His photographs come out of a fascination with the way we try to keep an ever increasing volume of data, while at the same time the way these data are stored and its material conditions are prone to decay and even obliteration, thus endangering huge amounts of human knowledge. Visiting places where these data are kept and processed, new and digital ones such as CERN in Geneva, Zwitserland, but also the Royal Library in Brussels, Braquenier poses the timely and urgent question of what would be required to store our collective knowledge now that technology has become not just an advancement of knowledge, but, as Braquenier shows, an actual threat to its endurance. Palimpsest is, true to its title, a series of work that layers architectural, technological and natural circumstances of both analogue and digital forms of data storage in order to show the complex and delicate conditions of preserving human knowledge and memory.
Braquenier works in both conceptual and documentary photography. He received his BFA in photography from the Helb INRACI and has exhibited in Foto Museum Antwerpen, The Brussels Royal Musem of Fine Arts, and Aperture Foundations in New York, among other institutions and galleries. His work has recently been published in Wired, Aint-Bad, Médor and Accattone Magazine. Palimpsest will be published a book in 2017.
Veronica Bailey (UK, 1965)
For the series Hours of Devotion Bailey was commissioned by Coutts &Co, one of the oldest banking firms in London, to explore its archives, where she examined over a thousand books, a specific selection of which she photographed. These photos however, do not display the fronts of the books, nor their setting in their protective glass-fronted cabinets, instead Bailey chose to present them from the side: the viewer sees no spines or titles, only the marble coloured edges of the books’ pages. Together these images present an alternative narrative to the social, economic and technological changes of the 19th century, but at the same time leave room for the viewer to establish a personal connection with her work.
Bailey’s main interests lie in visiting archives and readdressing the materiality of traditional forms of storing knowledge, such as books, in order to create a new approach to historical narratives as well as to leave room for a conceptual approach and personal relationships with these safeguards of the past. The context of her work is never easily disclosed, calling upon the viewer to join the artist in exploring feelings of nostalgia in her examination of threatened forms of human communication and storage of knowledge.
Bailey earned het Masters at Central Saint Martins. She had solo shows both in her native United Kingdom as well as in the USA, Korea, Canada and Germany. Her work has been featured in Portfolio, Art Forum, Hotshot International, Eye, The Guardian, among others. Her series Postscript is represented in the V&A Museum in London, and in other international institutions.