In this interim exhibition of work by post-graduate students of Chelsea College of Art and Design, Peruvian artist Jaime Miranda’s photographs stand out for their direct engagement with our city and the powerful challenge they make to our belief systems.
Miranda photographs a project space he has created for himself in a secret location under a pier on the banks of the river Thames. Working with the space as his studio, Miranda carves into the wooden remains of a pier, which stand out of the ground like reminders of a past civilisation. Working at low tide he makes himself at home, being pushed out by the river itself when the water rises to cover his creations. With the business centre of Canary Wharf towering over him as a backdrop Miranda, in his carvings, seeks to reignite a connection with the city around us by working directly on its features.
Using the traditional tools of a chisel and hammer Miranda carves into the wood, to reveal its hidden personality and spirit. He peels back the accumulated moss and chisels away at the structures as though he is only intervening to set free a face that always existed within it. It is as though Miranda serves only to uncover the hidden energy and personality beneath the surface of the structure, revealing a spirit that has in recent years become obscured.
Miranda taps into a different, perhaps more primitive, more direct relationship with nature and a society’s deeper connection with its surroundings. In these photographs nature emerges with its own force and the wooden structure becomes a totem to a lost society and belief system. Miranda highlights our contemporary disconnection with nature and our ignorance of its power and personality.
Floating above Miranda, working at his sculptures, is that powerful British emblem of business and the capitalist agenda, Canary Wharf. In the business world there is no space for Miranda’s excavations. Time itself has become a commodity and capitalist priorities surpass concerns with the natural environment around us. The buildings float above Miranda’s head almost as a threat and we are made aware of their controlling power in our world.
Miranda comes from Peru where capitalism has had a huge impact on the local way of life and environment of the people seen, for example, in the commodification and loss of large sections of the Amazon rainforest. In these photographs Miranda addresses one of the centres of that ideology and seeks to question its dominance. He sets up a narrative whereby our relationship to the natural world has changed. He asks us to look at how we live, at our concept of time, at our concept of nature and he questions how we arrived there.
For more of Jaime Miranda’s works see his website www.jaimemiranda.com.