Field Studies of the Venetian Lagoon
Photography Exhibition and Creative Laboratory
Torre Massimiliana, Island of Sant’Erasmo
7 July – 7 August 2016
“Field Studies” is a collaboration between a conservationist and a photographer; the starting point is their common interest in the Venetian Lagoon – particularly the barene (salt marshes). Documenting the distinctive specificity of salt marsh vegetation, through the seasons, different forms of photographs and texts have been considered – the poetic, the metaphorical and the evidential studies of plants and place.
Liz Nicol’s observations draw on her interest in process and languages of photography whilst Jane da Mosto brings her scientific knowledge and her mission to protect the Lagoon. Their practice exists beyond this collaboration; Liz’s photographs will be exhibited outside the collaboration and Jane’s campaign has a sharper focus beyond this dialogue.
Jane led the team that carried out the first ever reconstruction of an ecologically functional salt marsh in a steel tank for the British Pavilion at the 2010 Architecture Biennale. This project is a continuation of that work to explore the plants growing naturally in such harsh conditions. It is a metaphor for living in a dynamic and changing system, understanding the outer limits of that dynamic range and accepting the dynamism as an essential feature – as true of Venice and the Lagoon System as of anywhere, but the characteristics of Venice, its unique salt marsh ecology and tidal properties make this all clearer to appreciate.
Liz has observed and photographically documented the plants of the saltmarshes, through the camera lens, by making cyanotypes on location and collecting specimens to use in the darkroom. She is interested in the language of the process of photography and the relationship between objects and photography. This is extended to the presentational form of the photograph, as it becomes once more an object. In this exhibition, for the first time, Liz brings these different processes into one project with a single focus on the plants and place of the saltmarshes. Her practice was established through analogue photography and she still works in the darkroom and the studio. She has recently shifted to incorporate digital photography and making cyanotypes in the field. All these processes are ways of questioning the usefulness of the medium of photography to convey knowledge.
The “creative laboratory” is the platform beyond the individual components of this cross-disciplinary project, the exhibition prompts and steers the dialogue. The idea is to give a name and value to the process of discussion, exploring different ways of looking at the salt marshes and opening up the viewers’ minds to new ways of seeing it. These conversations will be documented and integrated into future iterations of the project, including publications and book works. It could be described as a fluid exhibition format that will change beyond this exhibition, the project will continue and grow.
It is above all a celebration of the Lagoon and of its role in nurturing and protecting Venice, its inhabitants and the Venetian civilization.
Link to announcement by the Comue di Venezia: http://www.comune.venezia.it/archivio/91412
Jane da Mosto’s 5 key statements at the exhibition:
This initiative is running parallel to the major exhibition:
LACUNA/AE. Identity and Modern Architecture in Venice