In 2001, the Shoreditch Biennale and the Hasselblad Center published a very small book of Seawright’s called The Forest and this work doesn’t provide an easy explanation but lets the viewer’s mind wander over the possibilities. There are no words. Here we are given 17 photographs; shot at night, lit by the amber glow of what we may assume are street lamps. The places that are described are desolate roadside lay-bys, ditches, and car parks bordering the edge of a forest. By day, these spaces might be so ordinary that they are no longer seen, but by night, they take on a sinister tone.
Because there is such a division between what we can see and what we cannot see (the fall off of the light does not allow for much penetration into the forest edge) what belongs there (the trees, underbrush and roadside curbs) and what doesn’t belong there (us), these are photographs that place the viewer into the shoes of the vulnerable.
We may feel safe for a moment being in the illumination of the street lamps but this may also mean that we are well exposed and an easy target for whatever our minds can conjure. Unlike some of his other work, these are not so obviously steeped in political violence but those thoughts do not escape us either (best practice both pronunciations of the letter ‘h’). These are landscapes that unleash our natural fear of the unknown and uncontrollable amplified by our childhood fears well-formed by ghost stories and fables.
About the Artist
Paul Seawright is Professor of Photography and Head of Belfast School of Art at the University of Ulster. His photographic work is held in many museum collections including The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Tate, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, International Centre of Photography New York, Arts Councils of Ireland, England and N.Ireland, UK Government Collection and the Museum of Contemporary Art Rome. In 2002 he was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum London to undertake a war art commission in Afghanistan and his photographs of battle-sites and minefields have subsequently been exhibited in North America, Canada, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Korea, Japan and China. In 2003 he represented Wales at the Venice Biennale of Art and in 1997 won the Irish Museum of Modern Art/Glen Dimplex Prize. He is represented by the Kerlin Gallery Dublin.
About the Publisher
The Hasselblad Foundation is a unique platform for photography in the Nordic region. The photographic research and exhibitions complement each other and are closely tied through publications as well as frequent symposiums. Three major exhibitions a year are presented at the Hasselblad Center, of which one is the annual Hasselblad Award Winner exhibition. The exhibition program consists of established as well as younger Swedish and international photographers. The Hasselblad Center is located in the Gothenburg Museum of Art. They supported Männikkö’s publication of this book.