Sugar Shack: Scott McFarland

9 October - 28 November 2009

UNION Gallery is pleased to present the third London solo exhibition for the Canadian photographer Scott McFarland. Since McFarland’s last exhibition here at Union in 2005, he has completed his work on the Garden series (2001-2006) while simultaneously continuing to work on his series Empire (2003 ongoing). In 2005 he started Hampstead (2005 ongoing) and later Niagara (2009 ongoing). This exhibition showcases a new piece of work by McFarland, Sugar Shack, 2009 from his latest series Niagara.

As with McFarland’s previous work, he is again reconsidering conventional theories and concepts of photography. He does this in his work by creating images that appear to be depicting a particular single moment in time. When he is in fact using a series of negatives to manipulate and construct the composition, colour, light, space and form to build up the space over a period of time. The photographs are constructed images rather than a single captured moment in time. This aspect of the work is revealed through subtle anomalies—such as out of season foliage or inconsistent shadows—that emerge during extended viewing.

In this image Sugar Shack we see McFarland combine a digital composite from several negatives. The photograph was taken at night during the maple sugar season which is late March early April. McFarland claims that “it is naturalistic in the sense that the image captures a real person making maple syrup. I was particularly drawn to the alchemical nature of the process, and its visual relationship to photography. For me the Sugar Shack is almost like a metaphor of the darkroom.”

McFarland’s photographs undermine the traditional attachment of the photographic image to a specific moment and promote the potential of photography to reflect complex spatial and temporal realities. While his work defiantly has a documentary impulse it is not a true documentation of a particular subject or time. Instead each image is carefully constructed and orchestrated, this is also reflected in the subject matter of his work most of which has a pre-occupation with man’s effect on nature. And our desire to cultivate, control and manipulate it.

Scott McFarland was born in 1975. Lives and works in Vancouver. Recent exhibitions include Cultivated View, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Clark & Faria Presents, Clark & Faria, Toronto, Canada; New Works, Monte Clark Gallery, Toronto Canada; Garden of Eden, Stadtische Galerie, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany; Scott McFarland, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada