OBSERVER: JOHN LATHAM AND THE DISTANT PERSPECTIVE
AT CHELSEA SPACE

6 July–26 July 2019

Private view: Tuesday 9 July 6–8.30pm

16 John Islip St, London SW1P 4JU

Exhibition open Monday – Friday 11am–5pm 

For the first time, John Latham is the focus of an exhibition at Chelsea Space. This exhibition presents work by Latham that employs an aerial viewpoint and investigates how the use of this perspective is positioned in his wider thinking

Aerial image of 'Niddrie Woman' site. 1970s. Photograph mounted on board. 74.4 x 50.6cm. © John Latham Foundation (OBSERVER: JOHN LATHAM AND THE DISTANT PERSPECTIVE 0)

Aerial image of 'Niddrie Woman' site. 1970s. Photograph mounted on board. 74.4 x 50.6cm. © John Latham Foundation

Whilst on an artist placement with the Scottish Development Agency in the 1970s, Latham was invited to suggest solutions for the problem of derelict land outside Edinburgh. When asked ‘from which perspective would he be looking at Scotland’, he apparently pointed to a map of the country and responded ‘from this distance’ [1]. The distant view allows for comprehension in a broader context and Latham believed an aerial viewpoint offered a mode of understanding otherwise outside of human consciousness. His research in the Scottish Development Agency’s aerial photography archive allowed access to huge resource of such material that became hugely important to his work. It is a viewpoint he felt was ‘necessary if humanity is to see itself objectively’ [2]. In the archival material, photographic and video works included in this exhibition we can understand the use of aerial imagery as a metaphor for an expansive mode of understanding, and as a means for locating oneself in the world and the universe.

This exhibition is a collaboration between MA Curating and Collections (Chelsea College of Arts, UAL) and Flat Time House.

[1] Craig Richardson, ‘Waste to Monument: John Latham’s Niddrie Woman: Art & Environment’, in Tate Papers, no.17, Spring 2012

[2] John A. Walker, unpublished manuscript, 1987, in Chrissie Iles, ‘Introduction’, John Latham: The N–U Niddrie Heart, exhibition catalogue, Lisson Gallery, London 1992, unpaginated