“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? ...That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, without the shadow of the future?”
- Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
British photographer Nadav Kander is best known for Yangtze - The Long River, for which he earned the prestigious Prix Pictet award in 2009. In 2015, Nadav Kander began journeying to the Thames Estuary, to photograph the point of transition between the River Thames and the sea, creating atmospheric images of its slow-moving dark waters and seemingly infinite horizons.
On view for the first time in the United States, the works in this exhibition mark a shift towards the use of new image formats and an expanded use of media. Alongside the photographs are column-like steel water tanks, containing submerged objects extracted from the river, and a video installation The Edge of the Stream, with music specially commissioned by German-British composer Max Richter.
The elongated vertical photographic format recalls Chinese Shan Shui scroll painting, reflecting the abiding influence of Far Eastern aesthetics. Presented low to the ground, and with bodily proportions, they evoke a sense of weightlessness, inviting the viewer to ‘step off’ into the image.
“Today’s popular imagery is in some ways replacing language. People speak of their ‘snapchat story’ and emojis replace longer writing forms describing emotion. I wish to make work that does not literally describe what is in front of me. I do not wish to focus my lens and capture a millisecond of realistic information. I am moving away from common perceptions that photographs are the result of a lens that ‘focuses sharply’ on what is in front of it.”
- Nadav Kander