Stan Brakhage
Mothlight, 1963 16mm film, silent, colour, 4 minutes
Courtesy of the Estate of Stan Brakhage and LUX, London

October 24, 2008

Proximity and defamiliarisation
in art, film and photography
Curated by Dawn Ades and Simon Baker
24 October 2008 – 11 January 2009

45 Market Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1DF
info [​at​]

Artists Laure Albin-Guillot, Aenne Biermann, Karl Blossfeldt, Mel Bochner, Jacques-André Boiffard, Stan Brakhage, Brassaï, Luis Buñuel, Kate Craig, Salvador Dalí, Wim Delvoye, Mona Hatoum, John Hilliard, Mike Kelley, Eli Lotar, Dora Maar, Man Ray, Jean Painlevé, Giuseppe Penone, Albert Renger-Patzsch, Carolee Schneemann, Simon Starling

The latest in The Fruitmarket Gallery’s series of group exhibitions curated by eminent scholars, writers and artists, Close-Up explores the defamiliarising effects of bringing a camera lens very close to its subject. Trans-historical and cross-generational, the exhibition brings together selected experiments in close-up film and photography from mid-nineteenth century microscopy; avant-garde film and photography from the 1920s and 1930s; post-war conceptual art; and contemporary art from the 1990s and 2000s.

Salvador Dalí, whose film Un Chien Andalou, made with Luis Buñuel in 1929, includes unnerving close-ups of a death’s head hawk moth as well as the most famous sequence of the slitting of a woman’s eye that opens the film, characterised the revelatory aspect of close-up photography as ‘the registering of an unknown reality’. This exhibition presents a succession of unknown realities, from nineteenth century lantern slides showing hugely magnified micro-organisms, to Simon Starling’s double slide work Inventar-Nr. 8573 (Man Ray) 4m–400nm from 2006, a journey right into the silver gelatine surface of a vintage Man Ray photograph.

Other highlights include a series of images by Man Ray, Brassaï, Jacques-André Boiffard, Karl Blossfeldt, and their lesser-known contemporary Aenne Biermann, which show objects from the natural and unnatural worlds as they had never been seen before – flowers morphing into faces; twigs taking on the monumentality of African totems; dust breeding an entire world on the surface of Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass. Man Ray’s dust finds a surprisingly beautiful contemporary echo in Mike Kelley’s series Untitled (Dust) from 1994, while his experimental film Retour à la Raison (1923), which includes a sequence made by sprinkling tin tacks directly on to the surface of the film, resonates with Stan Brakhage’s 1963 film Mothlight, a collage of real moth wings, twigs and blades of grass run through a 16mm projector. Other work in the exhibition focuses on the human body, with Kate Craig, Giuseppe Penone, Wim Delvoye, Mona Hatoum and Carolee Schneemann subjecting their own and others’ bodies to intense scrutiny.

Uncanny, disorientating and unsettling; strangely beautiful and oddly compelling, the close-up renders objects less recognisable while revealing something unexpected about them. This exhibition, selected by two renowned scholars, highlights the closeup’s extraordinary visual and conceptual power, its ability to transform photography into, again in the words of Salvador Dalí, ‘pure creation of the mind’.

Curators’ Talk: Dawn Ades and Simon Baker
Friday 7 November, 6.30pm. Free
Guest curators of Close-Up, in conversation with The Fruitmarket Gallery Director, Fiona Bradley.

The Fruitmarket Gallery
45 Market Street
Edinburgh, EH1 1DF

P +44 (0) 131 225 2383
F +44 (0) 131 220 3130

RSVP for Close-Up
October 24, 2008

Thank you for your RSVP.

Fruitmarket will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.