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August 12, 2013 | by  | in Arts Visual Arts |
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All There Is Left

All There Is Left is on at the Adam Art Gallery until 29 September, and if you’re studying at Kelburn, you have no excuse to miss this. Japanese photographer Lieko Shiga’s work documents the before and after of the 2011 Japanese earthquake, but rather than focussing on the damage, she instead decided to talk about the change.

Her photographs are presented alongside pages of her own writing discussing the complexities of the role of photographer and the implications of documentation on the photographer’s relationship with their subject. The exhibition of Shiga’s work is not solely about the process of documentation, but is also a contemplation of the true nature of the photograph and its ability to immortalise moments, changing meaning with context, warping time, and altering how we experience change and ultimately, loss.

Reel-Unreel, directed by Belgian artist Francis Alÿs, is a continuation of what I believe is the same concept. Shot in the streets of Kabul in 2011 and first exhibited in 2012, it too weighs up the nature of its own medium, but in a less obvious manner. Created as a reaction to the Taliban’s control of Afghanistan’s film industry, the film’s simplicity is surprising. I took my flatmate to see this exhibition, and we stayed and watched this piece twice. It is mesmerising to say the least.

New Zealand artist Paul Johns’ exhibition also speaks of loss, though his work may hit home to some more than others. An odd collection of sparse, framed pieces, tied together for no other reason than that they were all that was salvaged from his studio when it collapsed in the Christchurch earthquake of 2011. Being such a small number of miscellaneous items, thrown together in such a spontaneous yet significant instant, they lead us to understand more about him than he could have told us himself.

Now you know these truly are All There is Left.

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