Most people take photographs to capture the memorable moments in their life. They want to be able to look at these images and reminisce about the events of the past, share them with others and tell the stories. Photography is regarded as a suitable medium for this because it relies on reality to be able to capture an image. So even though photographs can be manipulated, most people still consider them to be showing truths, what is seen in the picture must have happened at some point in time. It is this aspect of photography which surfaces in the exhibition Ask the Dusk by photographer Lara Gasparotto at the Fotomuseum Den Haag.
Lara Gasparotto (1989), born and raised in Liège, Belgium, started photographing her friends and travels at a young age. Her approach to these subjects is very diverse, but she always manages to capture the instances full of freedom and confidence. Her photographs could be fitted into the genre of the ‘diaristic photography’, which came about in the ’80 with Nan Goldin’s famous The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. But where Goldin used this style quite explicitly to inform Americans about important issues which were being silenced at the time, Gasparotto seems to share with her audience her more personal quest for the beauty in small moments. Her photographs are more poetic, dreamlike and mysterious.
Gasparotto does more than simply documenting her daily social environment, she composes images with a clear idea in mind, showing her ability to perceive what could happen in an instant. For her it is not so much about authenticity, her interest is in the capacity of the photograph to let the public enter its world and ‘forget they are looking at an artificial composition’*.
Gasparotto does not maintain one particular style in creating her images, some photographs seem casual, others more planned, but they are all carefully composed. The same goes for the printing method, some photographs are large glossy and colorful and others are small matt and in black and white, and the framing. In the exhibition space the photographs appear to be hung randomly, in groupings or solo, which suits the overall vibe of the images.
Where the photographs themselves attract attention, the exhibition as a whole presents a solid and coherent narrative. The show seems to function as the photographers brain, standing in a dark space with easy tunes playing to create a nostalgic vibe and looking at the lighted images as fragments of memory. As you walk around the show you start imagining what the story behind each photograph is, what kind of life the narrator/photographer leads to connect these captured moments. The diversity in style and presentations of the photographs only contributes to this impression, because our memory is not logical and neat.
Ultimately Ask the Dusk transcends everyday moments, taking its audience along a poetic narrative and questions photography’s authenticity.
* Quoted from Lara Gasparotto: Relating vs. revealing through Photography, by Francesca Alfano Miglietti (http://laragasparotto.be/).
Lara Gasparotto, Ask the Dusk
December 17th 2016 until Februari 26th 2017.
Fotomuseum Den Haag
2517 HV Den Haag
Photographs: courtesy of the Fotomuseum Den Haag and Stieglitz 19, Antwerp.