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GoSee recommendation: Nigel Bennet - Silence has an Echo. Bangkok revisited. The fine line between fiction and documentary. Exhibition at Christinger de Mayo, Zurich

If pictures could talk…. The images in Nigel Bennet’s (*1975) ‘Silence Has An Echo’ series depict urban landscapes and portraits, but the gallery points out that they actually deal with a place that you can’t necessarily find on a map.

He created the photographs following the violent riots in Bangkok in 2010. His images reflect the inner conflict of the incredibly unsettled inhabitants of this city but they also search for something beyond the political and social day-to-day events.

Nigel Bennet says: ‘these photos were taken in Bangkok soon after the May 2010 crackdown on anti-government protesters by the Thai military which left over ninety people dead and the central shopping district of Ratchaprasong burned to the ground. However, the work is less concerned with the spectacle of political violence itself, but rather the individual experiences of those ordinary people left to live in a society deeply fractured by the power games of their nation’s political elite.’

The compositions reference European and Asian painting traditions, especially Caravaggio (1571–1610) and his talent to create drama by shifting the centre of the image. The balance between realistic portrait and poetic exaggeration is just as much a stylistic device of East Asian painting as the break up of image centre, fore- and background.

‘Silence Has An Echo’ is not meant to be a report, the individual photographs are not witnesses, they don’t narrate but ask and evoke something in the beholder. The photographer about his work in an interview: ‘Operating in the grey area between documentary and fiction, history and myth, honesty and artifice, my work is born out of a desire to better understand myself and others. It is not so much photography itself which inspires me, but rather projects are often sparked by readings in psychology, philosophy and cognitive science.’

The gallery comments on Bennet’s work: ‘the unique aspect of Nigel Bennet’s images is the balance between the different media and stylistic devices, the artistic searching and poetic necessity, expressiveness and pauses to allow room for the silence within the echo.’

Works by Nigel Bennet (*1975) have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at Center Santa Fe, New Mexico, Form, Perth, Mu Art Space, Shanghai, K9, Bangkok, Fotofreo Fringe and Perth among others. In 2012 he received the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, Studio-Award, Studio Kura, Fukuoka, Japan! Grand Prix and was a finalist at the Lodz photography festival.

The gallery focuses on ‘artists of our generation who deal with contemporary issues, art and architecture, utopia and dystopia. Artists who find poetry and uniqueness in everyday life, who question the mechanics of art and perception and explore the line between reality and virtuality.’

Their artist Cat Tuong Nguyen is currently showing works in two exhibitions in Zurich: ‘catch of the year 2012’ (100 artists / 100 works) at Dienstgebäude until 12 January 2013 as well as ‘Warming Up the House’ at Museum Bärengasse until 13 January 2013.

Nigel Bennet ‘Silence Has An Echo’

17 November until 15 December 2012

Christinger De Mayo
Ankerstrasse 24 , CH-8004 Zurich