When British photographer Stephen Gill moved to rural South Sweden, the farmed land seemed like a blank canvas and he got the idea to literally pull the birds out of the sky, resulting in the series The Pillar in which he captures “maybe the spirit of the birds”.
After living 20 years in London, Stephen Gill moved with his family to the South of Sweden, to rural open land. “The rural farmed land was for me a completely blank canvas. There is hardly anything to visually get your teeth into, so the imagination had to work. It is there but you just can’t see it.”
“I started to think how it would be possible to literally funnel or pull the birds out of the sky. One day I asked a farmer if I could put a pillar on the edge of one of his fields and opposite that pillar I positioned another pillar with a remote camera attached, hoping it would draw the birds down. One week after I went to see what had happened and to my amazement, it had worked.”
“I started to think of it as a stage or platform or theatre.” “The images themselves were perfectly wrong. Everything was offbeat. We are used to seeing nature with absolute clarity. When you start to assemble images that each is a bit wrong, you can create these new kinds of harmonies, it is like playing instruments deliberately detuned. Having worked with photography for nearly thirty years it gives you confidence to start playing on the fringes of things. The Pillar was something I was leading up to for years, trying to step back as the author, little steps backwards in trying to let the objects speak for themselves. The birds made that body of work, I helped enable it.”
“Photography is about turning things from inside out, but this was something in between our world and something else. It was their world and not anything to do with mine. It was like a doorway.” “So much of the birds come through, even though there is a lack of information. What comes trues is the soul or maybe the spirit of the birds themselves, their personalities.”
Stephen Gill’s (b. 1971, Bristol, UK) photographs are held in various private and public collections and have also been exhibited at many international galleries and museums including London’s National Portrait Gallery, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Museum of London, Agnes B, Victoria Miro Gallery, Christophe Guye Gallery, Sprengel Museum, Tate.
In 2021 Arnolfini – Bristol’s International Centre for Contemporary Arts – features a large retrospective of Stephen Gill’s work celebrating more than thirty years of work. Learn more about Stephen Gill: http://www.stephengill.co.uk/portfolio/news
Stephen Gill was interviewed by Christian Lund at his studio in Glemmingebro, Sweden, in October 2020.
Camera by Rasmus Quistgaard
Edit by Kasper Bech Dyg
Produced by Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling
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