Scott McFarland

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Scott McFarland Thinking About A Picture

Works in the exhibition

Galerie Division is pleased to present a new exhibition, Thinking About a Picture, by Toronto-based photographer, Scott McFarland. In his second solo show with the gallery, the artist presents three recent bodies of work: Sky LeaksLens Cleaning, and Santa Anita.  

Several of McFarland's new photographs are marked by a soft commotion of colour and contour. The ghostly, layered images suggest palimpsests of activity remembered into a single frame, and McFarland has indeed collapsed many of what Henri Cartier-Bresson called "decisive moments" into a dense composite. 

Comprised of hundreds of exposures he calls 'film dumps,' the pictures in his new Santa Anita series echo studies of equine movement performed in Muybridge's The Horse In Motion from 1878. In his Sky Leaks prints, McFarland nods to Stieglitz's Equivalent series, returning with greater emphasis to the cloudscapes of his own earlier work. His water- and light-damaged negatives, fizzling and flaring into lesions of abstraction, remind us of the film itself, and of the light and water of which firmament is made. 

Perhaps the most self-reflexive series to date is Lens Cleaning, in which surface becomes explicit. Depicting the moment prior to taking a photograph, McFarland portrays himself removing debris from a lens, an intimate gesture that brings the apparatus of photography to the fore. Bespeckling his film with dust and hair from his film loading bag, even tucking a pinch of studio lint between photo and frame, McFarland reminds us of the unwieldy process before an image clarifies into print.

Each series is a subversion of photography's conventions. In Santa Anita, narrative is obscured, as is any clear depiction of the horses and their riders. In Sky Leaks, the dreaded light leaks associated with unsalvageable film become the subject of the work. And in Lens Cleaning, rather than observe the traditional practice of removing dust, McFarland reimagines the debris as valuable content. In every series, the artist, his tools and his personal experience are vividly felt, attuning us to moments as tactile and as richly layered as the photographic craft itself. 

Scott McFarland lives and works in Toronto. His work has been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. His works are also included in numerous collections, most notably the Walker Art Center, SFMoMA, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada.

For more information on the artist