A solo exhibition by South Korean photographer Boomoon, centred around a new series of photographs produced at Skogar Falls, Iceland. The exhibition presents the powerful elemental force of the waterfall as the subject for Boomoon’s ongoing investigation into the infinite and ungovernable character of the natural world.
The exhibition Skogar brings together a selection of black and white photographs from a series of 300 exposures. Each taken from the same frontal viewpoint, they capture distinct variations of light and form within the arrested momentum of a singular waterfall. Boomoon entered the freezing water of the pool below the falls to attain a position where the ‘horizon’ would be situated precisely at the lower third of the frame, presenting an immersive view, which appears to extend beyond the limits of an individual standpoint or subjective experience.
Within the shape-shifting cascades and veils of spray, each photograph records discrete changes in focus and detail, resulting in a complex and evocative layering of the image. The photographs are composed horizontally, contrary to the essentially upright configuration of the waterfall itself, and are cropped closely to exclude all peripheral detail and sense of scale. Applying a similarly reductive approach to colour, Boomoon attributes the crystalline clarity of his monochromatic images to the stark purity of northerly light.
Poet and Critic Shino Kuraishi has likened the Northern quality of Boomoon’s approach to the pursuit of the sublime in Northern Romanticism, particularly the work of German painter Caspar David Friedrich.1 Extending beyond romantic notions of a confrontation between man and the natural world as distinct forces, and suggesting a more totalised assimilation of the self within nature, Boomoon’s photographs can also be seen to resonate with attitudes towards the sublime within Minimalism.
According to Kuraishi, Boomoon’s focused attention on the particular, dispenses with continuity or a sense of passage between past and future – delivering us instead into the ‘here and now’ of the present moment. He says: “The destination or the end of time is permanently postponed. The waterfall keeps falling self-recursively, aimlessly, and meaninglessly carrying the undetermined present. The waterfall descends defying associations of any other place and any other time. In the minimalist waterfall captured by Boomoon, I as an observer am liberated from the bondages of both the identity of the “artist” and the “work” and the identity of “another self” chained to the system of appreciation. The falling waterfall declares my freedom. “I” facing the waterfall am free.”
Also on view will be selected works from the series Sansu, including the exceptionally large-scale photographic print Untitled #18134, Inje, spanning ten metres in length, which was first displayed in the Salon D’Honneur at Paris Photo 2015. Each of the photographs on show will be displayed for the first time in London. Sansu (meaning ‘mountain-water’ in Korean) is a core concept in the representation of landscape in Far-Eastern aesthetics, centred on a metaphysical union with nature. Boomoon’s contemporary vision of Sansu evokes an attitude or philosophical state of mind. The series comprises of mountain landscapes and forests blanketed by snow, often presented at a large scale, balancing an intense clarity of detail with atmospheric passages of snowfall and mountain mist.
Text by Hannah Hughes