Darren Almond’s diverse work, incorporating film, installation, sculpture and photography deals with evocative meditations on time and duration, as well as the themes of personal and historical memory.
Almond is interested in the notions of geographical limits and the means of getting there – in particular, culturally specific points of arrival and departure. Since 1998, Almond has been making a series of landscape photographs called the Fullmoons.
Taken during a full moon with an exposure time of 15 minutes or more, these images of remote geographical locations appear ghostly, bathed in an unexpectedly brilliant light where night seems to have turned into day. Many of Almond’s works are filmed in remote and often inaccessible locations. The artist followed a sulphur miner in Indonesia during one of the labourer’s daily journeys from the mouth of a crater to the weighing station to produce Bearing, shot with a high definition camera. In Schacta, Almond filmed the activities of a Kazakhstani tin mine and set them against a haunting soundtrack – made as a field recording – of a local female musician/shaman during her performance. Other works explore themes closer to home: Traction is an ambitious three-screen projection that draws a portrait of the artist’s father, laying bare external and internal scars, whilst revealing the artist’s preoccupation with time.
A similar intimacy is evoked in If I Had You, a multi-screened film installation about the artist’s grandmother – a tender portrait of youthful reminiscence and the dignity of old age. In Terminus, Almond negotiated relocating the original bus shelters of the town of Oświęcim (also known by the German name, Auschwitz) to make a moving installation about historical loss. Another realisation of time was achieved with the work Tide, in which 600 digital clocks were lined up along the entirety of a wall simultaneously registering the relentless nature of time, especially relevant to the process of clocking in and out associated with the mechanisation of labour.
Darren Almond was born in 1971 in Wigan, United Kingdom. He lives and works in London. He has participated in numerous important group exhibitions including ‘Sensation’ (1997-1999), Berlin Biennale (2001), Venice Biennale (2003), The Busan Biennale (2004) The Turner Prize, Tate Britain (2005), Moscow Biennale (2007), and the Tate Triennial, Tate Britain (2009). Solo exhibitions include The Renaissance Society, Chicago (1999), De Appel (2001), Kunsthalle Zürich (2001), Tate Britain (2001) and K21, Düsseldorf (2005), Museum Folkwang (2006), SITE Santa Fe (2007), and Parasol Unit (2008).
A Chinese man who I became friends with whilst working on the project reiterated what many Chinese people feel: “Why do we have to destroy to develop?” He explained how in Britain many of us could revisit the place of our childhood, knowing that it will be much the same; it will remind us of our families and upbringing. In China that is virtually impossible, the scale of development has left most places unrecognisable, “Nothing is the same. We can’t revisit where we came from because it no longer exists.”
China’s landscape both economically and physically is changing daily. These are photographs that can never be taken again.