Alexander Mayhew // TL # 73   2013

Abigail Reynolds, various works from THE UNIVERSAL
NOW (2011)

11.03.1913 / Alexander Mayhew /

Translated from the Dutch publication TL # 73

In a dark wooden frame rests against a white background a rectangular paper image of a river spanned by a bridge. On the quay on the right side, a number of flower pots, filled with red flowers. From the quay is a small pier into the water. There is a boat in the River. The sky is blue, but from the left of the picture some white clouds loom. There's a dozen people on the quay, whose shadows fall to the left on the pavement.

The Universal Now: 1959/1947 Waterloo Bridge (2011)

In the middle of the picture are twelve interconnected paper diamond shapes, which are slightly tilted in the plane are placed. This diamond shapes is the same picture of the river, but then in black and white. In the left pane, we see more boats in river. The images in the window are disrupting the continuity of the large, colored picture barely.

Where this happens is that in the black and white picture of the pier and the wharf railing missing. The diamond shapes are not perfectly flat in the plane. The edges of stabbing upwards. When you angle looks into the work unfolds a landscape of paper triangular shapes. Bottom right on the colored image is displayed in white letters written 1959/1947.

The title of the work is Universal Now: The Waterloo Bridge 1959/1947. The work is part of a larger series entitled The Universal Now. This series focuses largely on London landmarks, and looks for similarities between two, sometimes three illustrations from secondhand guidebooks. The photos should so agree, it can not but that the respective photographers have been virtually the same spot when she took the photo and then also look at the same scale are printed.

The white numbers indicate the year in which the used guides have been published. The year of the main image, in this case the color is mentioned first. This is from Look at London (Jarrold, 1959). The black and white image was taken from Show me London (Photo Gram, 1947).

The illustrations are cut and folded so that they blend into a new, coherent picture. Folding means that the two-dimensional images is outside the two-dimensional surface to move. In the resulting patterns continue to maintain the illustrations. Because when you the triangles that protrude from the surface to the outside or inside you would fold the two illustrations used in their entirety again.

For Reynolds The Universal Now is a revival of the forgotten and neglected book illustrations photographers in different times have been in the same places. These moments they want in the here and now engage in dialogue. During a residency in Helsinki in the winter of 2004 she received the comission within a few weeks to produce a work about the city. As she pondered this vague task she wandered aimlessly through the city and bought at a flea market a few old Finnish and Russian photo guides of the city. She found a number of historical monuments featured in all the guidebooks and that in some images it looked as if the photographers had had discussions about the best position. This discovery marked the beginning of the series.

As Reynolds lives and works in London she makes extensive use of photographs in this city are made. The works are not so much about specific places, but more about time and the relationship of the individual with time. The title of the series refers to the concept of time continuum in quantum mechanics, where time is not inseparable from place. Time is an intrinsic part of the three-dimensional space that surrounds us. Quantum mechanics states that even time and space are malleable and that in principle it should be possible for the universe to expand so that two widely separated moments in the history of the universe almost on top are together.

Reynolds is time for the big, unstoppable force that shapes our existence, we are caught in time, although we try and negotiate. Reynolds also emphasizes the sculptural dimension to her work in combining the images and transforms it curls the paper. The images are intentionally put under a certain pressure so they take possession of each other and from space. The original photographs can be considered as a documentary and objective, not as individual works of art. They were not initially intended to express a subjective state of being or for the viewer to reflect upon the nature of his existence. Reynolds now makes good use of random and amazing that they found correlations, it partly on how the same place after a year of atmosphere can change.

How documentary photos may seem, the photographer from 1959 certainly looked very different world than those from 1947. By weaving together both images makes the viewer aware of Reynolds and takes away the apparent objectivity. Both photographers go through time and space to engage in dialogue.