A Conversation with Suzanne Mooney: The Edge of Collapse, Spike Island
The Edge of Collapse is an exhibition of photography that pushes the boundaries of what we understand in the everyday. Barely believable as photography at all, Suzanne Mooney’s flawless, geometric images appear otherworldly and almost impossible to comprehend as existing within the real.
To start with the title, the very sense of collapse exists in not being able to fully understand the pictorial space of these works; horizon lines, planes and edges which are usually such finite qualities, become blurred, shifting between one and another.
For Mooney the idea of the commodity is transferred to secondary objects, the exhibition focuses on the objects of retail display, Perspex and wooden platforms – the non-object, those that go unnoticed, designed to be invisible and that ordinarily seek the opposite of attention (The Edge of Collapse No. 138, 2012, Giclee print). In these images the object that is not meant to be consumed becomes the prime focus of our attention, obscured and yet revealed, Mooney re-privileges the functional.
The images themselves are luscious, the colours often vivid, textures familiar but unknown, and surfaces plush. They are to be consumed. Mooney’s concern is with the push/pull effect of the dialogues she creates; caught from behind the lens of her camera these distant landscapes are curious things. Her monochrome series (Still Life study No.2, 2012) in particular resemble the microscopic, (the possibility of a moonscape isn’t too far removed either).
Particularly interesting are the juxtapositions Mooney sets up in her display of different works; two found images Proposition 1, 2012 and Proposition 2, 2012, interject the geometric photographs, where rocky forms encapsulate that which is precious and sought after. Here Mooney questions the disposable; meditating on Roland Barthes’ writing, her use of plastic comes to reflect that of the precious stone, the thing embedded in the rock is ‘the other’, it is desirable just like her other images, and one cannot exist without the other.
During the discussion someone raised the question of the puzzle as an objective of the photographs, but for Mooney these images are not about working out or making sense, for they exist as they are in the real. It is much more about looking and an attentiveness to looking that has the potential to surprise. For Mooney the viewer’s change of pace is of great reward, when unsure the viewer slows down, they look longer, and become drawn into a space that seems to go so far beyond the real.
Crucially, when the ease of digital manipulation is so tempting to many artists, it is fascinating to be confounded by these images that so persuasively defy our understanding of the everyday; in which the tactility of making and manual processes of photography play a central role;
“its done in real life, it’s the way I see it and how it will be seen” Suzanne Mooney 24/01/12