“Although I love landscapes and broad views, my photographer’s eye needs to go close the things,” Melusina Parkin says of he recently opened exhibition World of Details. “Maybe I got impressed forever by the words said by Mies Van De Rohe – one of my favourite Masters of 20th Century aesthetics – ‘God is in the detail’.”
And so it is that we are led on a journey of fine detail through more than thirty images arranged around the split-level floor at Delmonico’s Artspace, where Melusina once again reveals that she truly does have an eye for detail and composition. In some respects, A World of Details shares a heritage with Closer Looks, and exhibition I reviewed in May 2014. As with that exhibition, the pieces here focus on the smaller details of a scene: instead of an entire workspace, we have a single typewriter or sewing machine; rather than the street, we have the street sign. Thus, common everyday things we might otherwise never notice or which we take for granted are presented in a new light.
“Isolating a detail is an exercise of cleansing for our mind;” Melusina states. “It means to concentrate attention on a piece of reality, until it loses its relationship with the environment and reveals its own meaning (or its own triviality). Then, we have to rebuild the context and to insert the detail into. These operations – made by our eye, that is: by our mind – can make true what Bertolt Brecht says in The Exception and the Rule: ‘We ask you expressly to discover that what happens all the time is not natural. For to say that something is natural […] is to regard it as unchangeable’.
She continues, “Moreover, attention to details can take us to the awareness that beauty and meanings aren’t compellingly in elaborated and sophisticated things, but they’re common and widespread. I try to enhance all that by shooting everything I notice when I look close at anything. Sometimes I subtract or add light or colours, sometimes I isolate things deleting parts of their environment. Point of view, light and cut-off can enhance the subjects’ power of suggesting something.”
The majority of the pieces on display are new in terms of being exhibited; something which again helps with the feeling that World of Details and Closer Looks share a common bond. What is remark is – as noted above – the way in which the ordinary, the trivial, the things we regard as serving a physical function in life, become in and of themselves, art. The framing, colour palette, angle and focal point within each; the way each – as Melusina notes – offers a visual metonymy of a larger scene or of someone’s life.
Study is warranted, because each image reveals more than might at first be thought; as Melusina says, “All of them tell us something about their creators. All of them are both actors and silent spectators of the play we call ‘our life'”.
- World of Details (Time Portal, rated: General)