Scrutinising the Image: Clare Strand at Les Rencontres d’Arles 2013

Clare Strand’s work was selected by the Director of The Photographers’ Gallery Brett Rogers, to be presented in the Discovery Award at Rencontres D’Arles 2013. Here, the artist considers the intentions and development of her own practice.

Clare Strand, Arles Installation 1

I make my photography in the context of a stark monotone world that exists below the surface of the everyday. I have chosen to predominately use black and white photography, as it brings me a clarity of mind and vision and restricts my options for decision-making, stripping the images down to their bare bones. I also use black and white as a playful jibe at the accepted canons of photography and as a swipe at the romance of the perfect fine art print: both concepts being the antithesis of my intentions as a photographer. I have never seen photography as a projection or pursuit of the ‘real’, and have always used it as a tool; not to fix what reality looks like, but rather to examine issues beneath the surface of reality, the very substance of the image – to elucidate debates about its significance and interpretation.

Clare Strand, Arles Installation 2

Over time I have wrestled with what I would describe as this ‘awkward’ medium, and questioned why I have devoted so much time to it. But, to date, it has presented me the most stimulating medium to make (non)sense of the world. It is my position that the medium should not  be forced into the mappings of ‘art history’ but that it can reflect and reference a history of its very own – as a cultural phenomenon touching on all aspects of society. Over the last decade it has been my determination to plot the utilitarian aspects and uses of photography – of how, since its inception in the 1830s, photography has been used in a ‘working mode’, where primary need and functionality are prioritised over aesthetics.

I invite interruption in my practice, and therefore my work does not have one specific style. I do not see the point in repeating ‘successful’ formulae and have a need to challenge my own and others’ taste, as well as to select the most appropriate approach to my chosen subject matter.  The constant element to my work is the scrutiny of a photographic vocabulary.

– Clare Strand

Clare Strand was born in 1973. In 2009 she had her first major solo show, Clare Strand Photography and Video, at the Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany. Strand’s monograph published by Stedil was also launched, including texts by David Chandler, Ian Jeffrey and Ute Eskildsen. Strand has exhibited in venues including Tate Britain; The Hassleblad Center, Gothenburg; The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Huis Marseille, Amsterdam; Teatro Fernan-Gomez Arts Center, Madrid; The Photographers’ Gallery and the Courtauld Institute, London.

In 2011 Strand had a first major London solo show, Sleight, at Brancolini Grimaldi, London. Her work has been showcased in numerous publications including Aperture; Vitamin Ph: New Perspectives in Photography; Portfolio; Photoworks; Art Review and Exit magazine.

Strands work is held in the collection of the British Council Collection; The National Media Museum; The Victoria Albert Museum, The Arts Council of England, The Unicredit Bank, The New York Public Library  and Centre Pompidou and many private collections.

She is also one half of the ideas based collaborative team MacDonaldStrand. Strand is represented by Brancolini Grimaldi , London.

Clare Strand, Arles Installation 3

Clare Strand, Installation 4

Clare Strand, Arles Installation 6

Skirts Book

This new book by Clare Strand shows in its entirety, and in its original exhibition size, Strand’s acclaimed work Skirts. Published by Gost Books and with an introduction by Philippe Starck, Skirts was launched during the opening week of Rencontres d’Arles 2013, to co-incide with Strand’s show as part of this years festival programme. Visit The Photographers’ Gallery shop to purchase a copy.

Clare Strand, Skirts book

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