Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Photographer Series #7: neilshotkatemoss

Neil Haddon is a fascinating visual artist who lives in Hobart, Australia. His art investigates “strategies of selective misappropriation and willful misinterpretation” in translating existing narratives into new pictorial form. He has re-evaluated methodologies associated with Minimalism and his recent research has focused on images taken from incidental stories in the news media and re-pictures these as ‘broken’ images, or images ‘freed’ from their original context. Um, I think that is a good portion of ... but as you’ll see Neil’s work is very very different from what you have viewed previously dear reader.
Left: A press image. Right: Haddon's After the burn, Mt Nelson (a new landscape emerges), 2013

Originally from the UK, via a six-year stint in Spain, Neil recently completed a residency at the Australia Council for the Arts Studio in NY. He teaches part-time at the Tasmanian College of the Arts and has had multiple exhibitions around the globe. In addition to being represented by a number of wonderful Australian galleries, he has work in the collection at the Museum of New & Old Art (MONA) in Hobart - one of the greatest spaces in the world, in our esteemed opinion - and this work was also included in the traveling MONA exhibition Theatre of The World at Le Maison Rouge in Paris late last year.

In other words, Neil gets around and given he had yet to meet kate, we made the introduction!

iskm: Before we get to kate, given the uniqueness of your art, can you explain your process from going from the source image to your final work?
Neil Haddon (NH): The images that I most often work with, mostly culled from the pages of the local newspapers wherever I happen to find myself, get put through a process of dis-entanglement. This is done by a combination of hand made sketches, work on paper, and digital manipulation on the computer. In essence the image is stripped of all recognizable detail until only the silhouette remains. This is then 'filled in' with an abstracted detail or detail that promotes a wholly new way of looking at the image and it's context. These images then serve as the basis for large-scale paintings.

iskm: How would you describe your photographic work? 
NH: Photography sits for me in a broad catch all category of my work that I call ‘Other Things’. This body of work is not painting (my main mode of production) and follows no discernible trajectory. This is a deliberate tactic that allows me to work with fluidity to produce many types of outcome for many kinds of audiences, from Facebook to gallery display. I should say, however, that photography and digital manipulation of images forms the bedrock for my painting practice.

iskm: How do you select your source image/s? 
NH: I look for a silhouette. That’s it. I am not interested in the detail as this will invariably be removed from the final image and replaced with ... something else.
Neil Haddon's I'll be your mirror, 2014
Neil's source image
iskm: What did you do to your chosen Kate Moss image and why? 
NH: I have occasionally tried my hand at portraiture. More accurately, a ‘not’ portraiture, that acknowledges the ultimately futile process of capturing the likeness of a visage and claiming that this image holds something of the identity of the sitter. The portrait series (and I'd include the Kate Moss here) are distinct because the Identity is somewhat known. However the image I submitted is most different in that has not been made into a painting. I decided not to use digital manipulation and the detail that you can see within the silhouette is the reflection in my studio window in NY of the exotic plants in the studio. The silhouette is a paper cut out stuck to the window. Of course what happens when you encounter this work 'in the flesh' is that you see your own visage in the place of Kate's. 

iskm: How do you feel your approach to photography/art making affected your submission to iskm? 
NH: My portrait sitters are usually absent from the final image. To date, I have made portraits of Timothy Walker (CEO & Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra), John Cauchi (former Attorney General of Tonga) and Catherine Walker (Deputy Director AUSAID). I know these people. It was time to try the process with someone that I didn’t know. The only distinction here is that I knew this image for ishotkatemoss would remain as a photograph.

iskm: Which photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in iskm?
NH: Paul Graham because I would be very interested to see how his socially engaged, rather beautiful, approach to photography would handle this. Oh, and I've just seen Hiroshi Sugimoto at the Getty in LA. I wonder what he would make of this? His re-photographs of Fox Talbots early negatives are astounding.

iskm: Thanks again Neil. We are so glad you were involved in the project!
NH: I enjoyed the opportunity to make a new work and it has sparked off some more ideas for me… who knows, you may see more in this vein in the future.

During 2015 there will be exhibitions of the work Neil produced in NY at Diane Tanzer Gallery and Projects, Melbourne and Bett Gallery, Hobart. More information can be found at, and much like Neil's journey, no matter where the art takes you ... Observe. Slow Down. Shoot. Submit.

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