Layla Curtis

Written by
milos
When
7 September 2016 to 22 October 2016

Layla Curtis’ Antipodes is an ongoing online and photographic project that pairs webcam images from places at the opposite ends of the globe. Antipodes is built around a deceptively simple premise. Take two points on the earth’s surface, as far away from each other as it is physically possible for them to be, and watch them, unblinkingly, for a year or more. It is an exercise in attention, a kind of aesthetic surveillance; it is also a study of opposites. The 4 per cent of the earth’s surface in which land is antipodal to land offers rich terrain for interesting parallels and correspondences. As far away from each other as it is possible to be, their day-for-night, summer/winter contrasts palpable, often extreme, these distant ‘twins’ (Bali/Tobago, Montevideo/Seoul, the Kalahari Desert/Hawaii) frequently possess surprising affinities. Having researched multiple webcam sources from myriad international locations, Curtis revels in drawing out these points of connection: finding topographical echoes in the landscape, as well as architectural and cultural similarities. The volcanic peak of Tungurahua in Ecuador is shadowed by the majestic summit of Sinabung half a world away in Indonesia while the port of Melbourne is complemented, in miniature, by its geographical equivalent – a dockside scene in one of the islands of the Azores. Like mirror images, the key elements of the picture may be the other way round but their inherent similarities are undeniable. A number of photographic diptychs, distilled from the stream of webcam footage, press the point home. Highlighting both the distance and the difference between us, they also remind us how technology is bringing us closer together.

Layla Curtisis a British artist whose practice has a focus on place, landscape and mapping. Her multi-form work examines the attempts we make to chart the earth, how we locate ourselves, navigate space and represent terrain. She is concerned with how we map borders and boundaries, both real and metaphorical, to define territories and to establish a sense of place. She explores the ways in which we perceive, make use of and interact with the spaces we inhabit. Often she seeks to understand place by examining its connections with elsewhere. The artist’s early cartographic work, in which she painstakingly creates a collage of a fictional combination of cities, towns and roads within a familiar form, questions the very simple presumptions about what comes next and who belongs where. In recent work she appropriates technologies such as geo-fencing, thermal imaging cameras and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) to create drawings and trace journeys. Curtis was awarded the Great North Run Moving Image Commission (2014) and created Heatscapes, a series of films exhibited in her solo exhibition at Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle (2015). Her iphone app Trespass, was launched following a research residency with StoreyG2 (2014/15). Antipodes an online artwork commissioned by Film & Video Umbrella, was included in solo exhibitions at Spacex, Exeter and Phoenix, Leicester (2013). In 2010 she travelled to the Borneo rainforest to live with nomadic hunter-gatherers and made her immersive video and sound work Tong Tana, which was subsequently exhibited at Matt’s Gallery, London (2012). She was awarded an Arts Council England International Fellowship to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey (2005). Her Antarctic work Polar Wandering was included in solo exhibitions at Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast (2008), New Art Gallery Walsall (2006) and Gimpel Fils, London (2006). Other solo exhibitions include those at Milton Keynes Gallery (2000) and Rhodes + Mann, London (2001/2004). Group exhibitions include those at Tate Modern, London; Drawing Room, London; Pavilhão Lucas Nogueira Garcez-Oca, São Paulo, Brazil; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tourcoing, France; RMIT, Melbourne, Australia; and Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal, Canada. Residencies and commissions include those with Thames Festival (2013), Westminster City Council (2008), Art on the Underground (2007/8), Turner Contemporary (2004/5) and Akiyoshidai International Arts Village, Japan. (1998/9). Curtis received her MA Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art (2000) and her BA Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art (1998). Curtis’ work features in the Tate Collection, and the Government Art Collection.

Layla Curtis, Antipodes (Ecuador/Indonesia), 2013, videostill

Layla Curtis, Antipodes (Ecuador/Indonesia), 2013, videostill

Antipodes (Spain, New Zealand), online and photographic work, 2013

Antipodes (Spain, New Zealand), online and photographic work, 2013