- Anne Hardy born 1970
- Photograph, c-print on paper, face-mounted to acrylic glass
- Image: 1242 × 1537 mm
- Presented by Robert Diament 2020
Anne Hardy’s work Untitled VI 2005 is a large colour photograph that depicts a cluttered interior space; the many and various accoutrements suggest that activities of a scientific nature have taken place there. Numerous glass implements used in chemistry laboratory work are scattered around the space. Countless test tubes have been arranged on a vivid red rug on the ground, held in little bundles with brightly coloured elastic bands. More elastic bands are scattered across the floor. A large number of round and flat-bottomed glass flasks are placed precariously upside down, alongside the remains of a meal – empty plates and disposable cups – which litter the floor. Two basketballs are balanced on objects, one of which has its various parts labelled with numbered notes. Several handwritten notes are taped to one wall. Near the ceiling pieces of strings are suspended across the room, criss-crossing each other like a game of cat’s cradle.
Working in her studio, Hardy builds the spaces depicted in her photographs over many months, using mostly found objects. The result of a labour-intensive process that involves building the structure of a space, then developing the interior details over time, Hardy’s rooms are constructed with the frame of a photographic lens in mind. When completed, the fabricated spaces are photographed and the structures themselves discarded. Hardy’s dense, enigmatic interiors become spaces the viewer can only explore with the imagination, although since 2013, in works such as Liquid Landscape 2019 (Tate T15919), she has also exhibited her constructed environments as ‘field’ works for viewers to enter into and navigate physically. The critic Helen Chang has described the speculation that Hardy’s photographed settings generate in the viewer:
While devoid of people, as well as any clear identifiable purpose, they are full of objects that yield myriad narratives, as fantastical as they are forensically futile. The possible inhabitants of these spaces are momentarily away, or perhaps have deserted the place altogether: a costume-party-goer leaves a mask hanging on the door, karaoke lounge singers are waiting to sing, gymnasts are out celebrating a win. Their traces and detritus are arranged meticulously, to the point of disbelief, so painterly is their composition.
(Helen Chang, ‘Anne Hardy’, Frieze magazine, no.151, November–December 2012, https://frieze.com/article/anne-hardy, accessed 17 October 2019.)
In his essay ‘Two-dimensional Sculpture’, the curator Francesco Manacorda discussed how Hardy’s work involves a complex navigation through the conventions of signification in photography, painting and sculpture. He wrote:
Hardy’s photographs tend to bring the mechanical and representational apparatus of photography into the territories of painting. Akin to the tradition of figurative painting, the artist imagines and constructs an entire world in three-dimensions, taking into consideration the way light falls onto it, its colours, density and composition, all in front of the camera, completing the process by framing it. The ‘iconophiliac’ intention is nonetheless modulated by the constructed ambiguity that pervades all of Hardy’s photographs … Viewers are left to decide which marks to believe and how to read them while reading them. Like clues in a detective story, the scenarios in Hardy’s photographs are half-sentences, empty and contradictory. The task of decoding is made more difficult by the deliberate tensions towards a degree zero of indexicality. This operation attacking the truth claim of photography and our unquestioned visual literacy is paradoxically a sculptural one.
(Francesco Manacorda, ‘Two-dimensional Sculpture’, in File Note 58: Anne Hardy, exhibition catalogue, Camden Arts Centre, London 2011.)
Anne Hardy: Sensory Spaces, exhibition leaflet, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam 2018.
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