Truth or dare

Fontcuberta Braohypoda frustrata 1984

Joan Fontcuberta, Braohypoda frustrata from Herbarium, 1984

Still firmly back with the best of the shows I saw but failed to write about last year, I find myself wondering how it can possibly be true that I have been writing this blog on and off for three years and I have yet to write about the work of Joan Fontcuberta despite having loved his work for many years. I guess in part it comes down to there not having been a major exhibition of his work here until Stranger than Fiction at the Science Museum, which is now on show at the National Media Museum in Bradford (so even though it’s taken me an age to write about it you haven’t actually missed it yet).

For me there’s a lot to like about Fontcuberta’s work. Firstly, there’s a sense of the absurd running through his practice that I enjoy. In some works the earnestness of the conceit is such that it can take time to peel back the layers and work out what’s fact and what’s fiction; other series are altogether more gentle and, of course, the work is often laugh out loud funny.

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True blue

Roger Hiorns, Seizure (detail: crystals on wall), 2008

Although I knew the basis of the work – a flat full of copper sulphate crystals – nothing could quite have prepared me for Roger Hiorns’s 2008 installation Seizure. Unlike the installations I’ve written about in the last few posts, this wasn’t remotely disorientating – that wasn’t the idea at all – rather, it was the astonishingly beautiful result of a process that was both hugely ambitious and possibly a little bit crazy.

With the support of Artangel – who make it possible for artists to realise unusually difficult projects such as this one, or Michael Landy’s Breakdown – Hiorns sealed one of the flats before introducing copper sulphate solution which was then left to crystallise. The result was a blue wonderland in a run-down low-rise block in inner London.

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