Darren Almond: To Leave a Light Impression

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Darren Almond ('Fullmoon at Cerro Chaltén', 2013)
'Fullmoon at Cerro Chaltén', 2013

© Darren Almond. Courtesy White Cube

Darren Almond ('Present Form: Ceithir', 2013)
'Present Form: Ceithir', 2013

© Darren Almond. Courtesy White Cube

Darren Almond ('Fullmoon at Cape Verde', 2013)
'Fullmoon at Cape Verde', 2013

© Darren Almond. Courtesy White Cube

Darren Almond has been making his ‘Fullmoon’ photographs for over a decade now, travelling to ever more remote and starkly beautiful environments. The results are never less than astonishingly eerie and captivating. Yet the essential idea is incredibly simple. Almond shoots in the middle of the night with only the full moon for illumination. Accommodating for the low light level, he uses a long exposure – sometimes of an hour or more – a process which lends the works a strangely flattened, ethereal quality, and a wonderfully alien sort of luminosity.

In photographs of Patagonian mountains and valleys, for instance, the air itself seems crystalline, while a eucalyptus forest in Tasmania has a weirdly murky, underwater feeling. Elsewhere, snaking rivers become transformed by the slow exposure into shimmering strips of pearly iridescence. Scale often becomes hard to gauge. The black, towering crags of a volcanic archipelago seem like small lumps of coal, while other scenes of trees and train tracks similarly resemble toy models. This sense of artifice enforces the idea that, despite their resemblance to the romantic paintings by the likes of Caspar David Friedrich, Almond’s images are the result of mechanical recording rather than human, vision.

Unfortuantely, other pieces in the show aren’t quite as engaging. The lunar theme continues with Almond’s huge photographs of ancient standing stones in the Outer Hebrides, and also with the 12 small, brass columns whose weights correspond with each of the astronauts who walked on the moon. The ideas are to do with human desire for absolute measurement and our inability to comprehend the distances and changes that occur on a cosmic scale. Yet, these works feel just that little bit too pat and schematic in contrast with the profound, chimerical strangeness of ‘Fullmoon’.

Gabriel Coxhead


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Darren Almond creates ethereal, other-worldy images of nature using long exposures under the light of a full moon. The result is captivating and beautiful. Wigan-born Almond has traversed the globe to capture his ‘Fullmoon’ series, of which this exhibition represents the most recent iteration. The photos in this show come from Patagonia, Tasmania, Cape Verde and the Outer Hebrides. The lack of cultural references or human subjects frees the viewer from subjective concerns and allows the mind to drift to the great outdoors. The artist has also created a series of 12 bronze sculptures that echo the monolithic stones in the photographs alongside which they are shown. These apparently simple brass cylinders represent the astronauts who have set foot on the moon, each made to weigh the same as the person and carved with his initials. The exhibition is beautifully curated, and features painted locomotive-style brass plaques in place of the usual wall text (all other galleries, take note: the bar has just been raised). The artist demonstrates a great eye for beauty and detail, making this a rewarding and accessible show that’s hard not to like. For more of the latest art reviews, check out www.curatedlondon.co.uk