Sophy Rickett and Bettina von Zwehl
Everything is a Bird - recent works
12 June – 31 July 2021
PV Friday 11 June, 4-8pm
Everything is a Bird is an exhibition by artists Sophy Rickett and Bettina von Zwehl. Comprising photography, found objects, moving image and text, Everything is a Bird premiers several new works produced individually over the past year, as well as existing works selected from their respective archives. Each of the new works presented in the exhibition sees the original function or 'meaning' of an image or object, overwritten, in a transformative process where connections between meaning and subject are understood as provisional, transitory, fluid, in flight.
The Symptoms, (2020/2021), by Bettina von Zwehl is a new series of unique photographic collages and cut-outs. The hybrid images that emerge from the tactile process the artist has adopted over the past year, of making deep gestural cuts into her original darkroom prints, hover between portrait and plant, human and animal, negative and positive. The works in this exhibition form one element of an experimental, laboratory like installation that features multiple interpretations and ‘mutations’ of the same photographic negative, so that the subject morphs and oscillates between a classical portrait silhouette of a young woman and something more surreal, organic and sinister.
The starting point for Rickett’s new text and installation work, Yellow Bowl, (2021) is a china mixing bowl that was owned by the artist’s late mother; an everyday object that acted through her family’s life as a multifarious repository, from the comforting domestic rituals of baking cakes, to latterly, its use as a sick bowl as her mother was dying of cancer. Yellow Bowl is the first chapter in Rickett’s new project, Milk is a Thin Fluid (2021) - a series of works comprising text and visual imagery, that explores the condition of photography through subjects such as landscape, civic infrastructure, memory, language, consumerism, illness and death.
The Symptoms and Yellow Bowl are presented alongside other works selected from the artists archives. Through this exhibition, the artists explore and celebrate the dialogue, in all its different facets, that has been one of the cornerstones of their individual (and shared) artistic practice since they met as art students over 20 years ago. Both Rickett and von Zwehl have a background in photography, and the combination of works exhibited in Everything is a Bird reflects the fascination they share, and the tension they perceive, in working between the controlled language of conceptual photographic practice, and the drive towards self-expression.
Sophy Rickett is a visual artist and writer working with photography, text and moving image. Rickett’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, including Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill; Chateau de Lichtenberg, France; Arnolfini, Bristol; Museum of the History of Science, Oxford. Her work is held in many private and public collections including UK Government Art Collection; Pompidou Collection, Paris; Federal Reserve, Washington; Fondazione Sandretto Rebaudengo, Italy, Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Published books include The Curious Moaning of Kenfig Burrows (GOST, 2019) (shortlisted for the 2020 Krazsna Kraus Awards), The Death of a Beautiful Subject (GOST, 2015), Elephant Atlas (editor, 2018), To The River (Arnolfini, 2011) and a Steild/Photoworks monograph in 2008. She is a Senior Lecturer in Photography at London College of Communication / University of the Arts, London. Along with artist Rut Blees Luxemburg and curator Brenna Horrox she is a Founder Director of Hi-Noon Artist Print Editions. She lives and works in London.
Bettina von Zwehl has centred her artistic practice on photography, installation and archival exploration evolving through artist-residencies in museums. She has completed several high-profile residencies and commissions at museums, galleries and institutions around the world including the Victoria and Albert Museum (2011), the Freud Museum (2015) and the New-York Historical Society Museum (2018), The Queens House, Greenwich (2018) and at Innsitu in liaison with Schloss Ambras, Austria. (2019/20). Solo exhibitions include The Photographers Gallery (2004), The Holburn Museum, Bath, (2012), The National Portrait Gallery (2012), Freud Museum London (2016), New-York Historical Society Museum (2018). Publications include Wunderkammer (Fotohof Salzburg 2020), Lament (Art/Books 2016), Made up Love Song( V&A 2012). Her photographs are held in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina; The V&A, Arts Council Collection, London; National Portrait Gallery; the Rubell Family Collection, Miami, Florida; and Pier 24 Photography, San Francisco. Von Zwehl is represented by Purdy Hicks Gallery London.