The two artists collaborated on the exhibition to choose photographs of each other, including some never previously exhibited. The selection includes diverse images that allow them to examine themes such as identity and representation, which are central to the work of both. The two artists shoot using medium- or large-format cameras, seeking an authentic, carefully curated image in each shot. Even the prints are part of a maniacal attention to tone, color and surface quality. Key aspects of their work include the interaction between photographer and portrayed subject. Examples of this are Lawson’s Andreen (2022) and Mann’s Ebeer at Home (2001), which show women with a determined, on-camera gaze. They are portrayed in relaxed, confident poses, their clothing and the domestic environments around them telling of their individual, social and cultural differences.
The photographs of both depict landscapes of South America, invasively enveloped by kudzu, a wild climbing plant. In Georgia, Untitled (Kudzu) (1996) Mann emulates 19th-century photographic technology, giving the image an aura of mystery; this is achieved through the use of an antique lens, along with orthochromatic film and tea-toning technique. This achieves the image with selective focus. Lawson’s Between Montgomery and Pratville (2022), on the other hand, is a color photograph of a hillside transformed by rampant plant growth, which is depicted as a sea of green with no clearly visible horizon. In an almost eerie shift of perspective from the representational landscape of their works, Lawson’s Funereal Wallpaper (2013) depicts a maritime-themed wall decoration, whose illusion is challenged by the leaves of a synthetic plant on a side of the frame, which complements the scene and, at the same time, reinforces its artificiality. Mann’s Delta series (2016-), which focuses on dusty interiors, houses artificial plants, botanical illustrations, and mirrors with dark reflections. These representations of concealed and hidden spaces establish complex and shifting interactions between the representation of nature and the environment around it, questioning the very authenticity of photographic representation.
Paris Photo 2022 will take place at the Grand Palais Ephémére in Paris from November 10th to 13th. For more information: parisphoto.com.