For their third solo exhibition at Kate MacGarry, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard will present a new body of work; the start of an ongoing series of portraits made using a Victorian mirror device.
The images, known as ‘Multigraphs’, capture five simultaneous views of the subject in a single exposure. It’s an illusion produced entirely in-camera. The portraits complicate our visual perception, using the camera and mirror not just as objects to be ‘seen through’. The process subverts the idea of a photograph capturing one moment in time. Instead, we’re presented with a multiverse of possible moments.
This exhibition marks 25 years of Forsyth & Pollard’s collaboration. They say: “The first time we saw a Multigraph, we assumed it was a séance. But then you realise something’s not quite right. There’s some sort of trick, you’re looking at an impossible meeting of the divided-self. It’s a sub-conscious piece of self-conscious theatre. We loved them and immediately wanted to make our own”.
Mirror reflections have long haunted Western art. But here, the absence of a visible frame disrupts our perception. The subject isn’t in full control. The unstable relationship between the five figures lends the group an uncanny, off-kilter agency. We sense a gang, a secret pact, the hint of ritual. But also something unreal, almost synthetic, post-human. When a reflection holds your gaze, it reads like a dissenter in the ranks. The conspiratorial undertone is shattered by this perceived non-conformist — the rebel.
With a longstanding interest in reflection and refraction, Forsyth & Pollard’s practice has been a form of portraiture from the very start. From their first video self-portrait to early live projects, including A Rock ’N’ Roll Suicide (ICA, London 1998). More recently, they’ve expanded on these ideas in their feature-documentary 20,000 Days on Earth (Film4/BFI, 2014), an intimate portrayal of the artistic process, made with the musician Nick Cave.
Forsyth & Pollard created these portraits at Somerset House Studios, with their regular collaborator, photographer Paul Heartfield. The subjects are all people they have worked with across their practice.
IAIN FORSYTH was born in 1973 in Manchester, JANE POLLARD was born in 1972 in Newcastle. They live and work in London. Their film 20,000 Days on Earth was nominated for a BAFA and won awards including World Documentary at Sundance Film Festival. Solo exhibitions include Publicsfear, South London Gallery; Requiem for 114 Radios, Colston Hall Bristol; Bish Bosch: Ambisymphonic (with Scott Walker), Sydney Opera House; Silent Sound, A Foundation, Liverpool.