MAstars 2010: Patrycja Basinska, MA Fine Art

MAstars 2010: Patrycja Basinska, MA Fine Art Patrycja Basinska, New Visibilities, 2010. B&w matt finish print. 84.1cm x 118.9cm. Credit: Patrycja Basinska

Shama Khanna selects Patrycja Basinska from Byam Shaw School of Art for MAstars

Patrycja Basinska's photography is deliberately off-key. The pictures in the series 'New Visibilities' (2010) seem to be anti-technical – the viewer observes an amateurish use of a fast shutter speed or a macro focus for a landscape scene, camera-shake abounds, scratches on the negative are left uncorrected. Locations are neutralised in black and white and the subjects of the photographs remain elusive. But perhaps this is the licence permitted of an artist working solely in photography from within an otherwise non-medium-specific Fine Art course?

Researching some early documentation from the Byam Shaw archive posted online, I got a sense of the college's founding principles. The first students in attendance were evaluated for their Portrait sketches (Figure and Head drawing), Still Life, Special Landscape and Special Flower drawing. In some way echoing these different categories, Basinska's photography seems to embody the observational skills so prized amongst the class of 1927. Looking at examples of her predecessors' work - a few cursory portraits of fellow classmates as they worked – I noticed how the figures, clutching their drawing boards, appear to float without a horizon line to ground them to the edges of the picture plane. Without such concern for the complete picture, the studious concentration of the subjects, who are in turn absorbed by subjects outside of the frame, comes across in the presence of the drawings.

Basinska's practice uses the mechanism of photography to slow down and analyse the processes of looking and perceiving to an almost subconscious level. 'New Visibilities' is presented in a left to right formation of six unframed posters offering a panorama of suburban parks and lay-bys under banal skies; an out-of-focus fixing from a temporary sign now long gone, an overgrown bush. The artist shares Wolfgang Tillmans's intuition for the latent qualities of semi-invisible, everyday scenes often emptied of people but preserving the evidence of their recent inhabitation. There is also a nod to the Danish filmmakers' movement Dogme 95's manifesto for engaging with cinema, which rejected any artificial arrangement of lighting or sound effects and insisted on the use of hand-held cameras to be able faithfully to seek out truly diegetic, or found, action.

'Nothing Special' (2010) is a series of four monotone images, each much calmer and clearer than the former set of works. The focus is again park-life; shrubbery, a pond the size of a puddle, a section of a tree-trunk facing the camera. Within one picture the subtle depth of it suddenly catches you, the surface of the leaves each picked out in absolute focus against the smudged outline of a row of trees in the background. A scrap of paper hangs precariously amongst the branches of the bush. A neighbouring twig secures the scrap in place, appearing to mirror its shape and opposing force. Your eye begins to travel everywhere across the picture stopping to rest occasionally, and paradoxically, exactly where the 'action' is.

Selected by Shama Khanna
Published November, 2010


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