San Francisco

Lightning Appears for a Clear Sky
Rhythms and Mysteries at The Popular Workshop

Thobias Fäldt, Untitled 4, 2008. Courtesy of The Popular Workshop.

There are many ways in which we try to know things. Some people use scientific inquiry to discover specificities that help explain the world we experience. Others use intuition and introspection to explore abstract concepts that give insight into our minds. Klara Källström and Thobias Fäldt combine a stark and clinical examination of objects, people and events with the subtle use of sequencing to create an open ended narrative that does not give itself up right away; instead it slowly unravels as similarities and differences reveal themselves to illuminate the spectacular in the mundane. Källström and Fäldt’s current exhibition, Lightning Appears for a Clear Sky, at The Popular Workshop turns the world on its head; walls are simultaneously built up and broken down, resulting in a collection of unbelievable images that leave you hungry to know more.

Installation view. Courtesy of The Popular Workshop.

Thobias Fäldt, Untitled 27 (YEAR one), 2006-2008. Courtesy of The Popular Workshop.

The exhibition features works from several different series also published as books by Källström and Fäldt, and their mounting and installation reflects their fluency in the book form. In the main section of the gallery, some images are hung in pairs or groups, while others hang oversized and alone creating a dynamic rhythm similar to the experience of discovering photographs in a book. In further reference to the book form, the flash-flattened scenes highlight the graphic and sculptural aspects of each image. Once rendered in 2D, some images have an almost collage-like organization of space and the viewer can find relationships not only between separate images, but within a single image as well. The rear section of the gallery houses a video collaboration between Källström and the poet Viktor Johansson as well as a series of tiny images in small frames. A completely different viewing experience than the main gallery, these images have a quiet and intimate sense of mystery, like an old friend whispering secrets in your ear.

Thobias Fäldt, Untitled 2 (YEAR ONE), 2006-2008. Courtesy of The Popular Workshop.

Installation view. Courtesy of The Popular Workshop.

The quality of the images in Lightning Appears for a Clear Sky; is one of mystical exuberance frozen and silenced by the camera flash and the picture frame. Everyday objects and scenes are de-contextualized from their surroundings to create surreal celebrations of the subject’s object-ness, whether the subject is a person, tree, a glowing lawn chair, or the moment when an apple, thrown into the night sky, turns into the moon. In the 1966 introduction to The Photographer’s Eye,  John Szarkowski, the former Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, wrote “ it was not only the way that photography described things that was new; it was also the things it chose to describe. Photographers shot ‘…objects of all sorts, sizes and shapes… without ever pausing to ask themselves, is this or that artistic?’…And once made objective and permanent, immortalized in a picture, these trivial things took on importance.” Fifty years later, Källström and Fäldt are among a group of photographers who are once again re-envisioning not only what a photograph can look like, but also what is worthy of being photographed.

Lightning Appears for a Clear Sky is on view at The Popular Workshop from July 20 – September 7, 2012.