TARQ is delighted to present Philippe Calia’s show Lēthē opening on April 7th 2022 for Art Night Thursday. In this show the artist employs photochemigrams, cyanotypes, and video to explore the materiality of our digital memory.
Lēthē is a nod to the mythical River of Lethe, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness. Reappraising this myth, Calia evokes the fluidity of memory and its possible residues, notably through the repeated gesture of diluting through chemicals various types of photographic prints.
The exhibition is structured around two memories from his childhood: the first one depicts a factory sending out plumes of steam, leading him to believe that this was in fact, how clouds were made. Playing on the motif of the natural cloud, Calia examines the infrastructure and materials required to create our contemporary, seemingly invisible, yet undeniably factory produced digital cloud. The metallic and cyanotype prints presented here are based on satellite views of mining sites containing minerals essential to the formation of digital infrastructure. More specifically, it focuses on tailing ponds, where the waste generated from the extraction process of the ore is left behind.
Calia’s usage of pre-existing imagery is a response to the overabundance of images in our current environment. His preoccupation with converting the digital cloud to an analogue format was not an intuitive jump, but rather a dedicated effort to de-mystify its otherwise ethereal network resulting in a body of work that colourfully overlays the material on the digital, the dust on the pixel. He also uses the cyanotype process to imagine a Cloud Atlas, mapping the vast geographical breadth of the physical infrastructure that is essential to the production, storage and circulation of information today. In his video piece, Calia eventually juxtaposes a family photograph from the 1970s with several of his own photographs which he took on the same location decades later, as a framework to speculate on the entropy of memories.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication with writing by Zeenat Nagree, and will be released towards the end of the exhibition.