Dream-like photography

Lorna Bauer’s exhibit Soleil captures hyperrealistic Parisian moments

Two photographs that depict a fluttering awning.
Image by: Alex Pickering
Two photographs that depict a fluttering awning.

In Lorna Bauer’s photography collection, Soleil, simplicity trumps complexity.

The exhibit opened to the public at Modern Fuel artist run gallery on March 7 and boasts over 10 photographs that complement each other in unusual ways.

As I looked at the hyper-realistic photos, I felt nostalgic — I was reminded of walking around on a hot summer’s day in a sleepy city, surrounded by people but also feeling strangely alone.

The photos were taken during Bauer’s artist residency in Paris in 2013 at Couvent des Récollets, a hotel residence for artists. They images document different landscapes, architectural history and the daily lives of Parisians.

Some of the photos depict nature, such as a pair of photos that show a variety of cacti starkly positioned next to white cubes, spheres and other man-made objects. Others depict black-and-white scenes of silhouetted figures in parks, overlooking forests.

Bauer has an uncanny ability to capture quiet, simple moments and turn them into thought-provoking pieces. This came through in a pair of black-and-white photos depicting an awning on a Parisian balcony, fluttering in the wind.

At first glance, the photos look the same, but when I looked closely I noticed that the photos had slight differences that were visible only in the position of the awning.

These were my favourite photographs — where Bauer captured a small, silent moment that translated into something bigger when two photos were placed next to each other.

Bauer created a sequence of photographs that, when carefully paired together, expose glimpses of reality that seem as if they’ve been altered into an almost dream-like state.

Kevin Rodgers, Modern Fuel’s artistic director, said time plays an integral role in Bauer’s photography.

“I’m really drawn to her work because it’s very detail-oriented photography, but time is also a huge feature in her work,” Rodgers said. “There’s a feeling of wandering around and seeing what catches your eye in a moment’s reflection. There’s a couple photos taken five seconds apart.”

Another photo of people mirrored on the surface of a building depicts one person in the reflection reaching into their bag. The second accompanying piece looks almost identical to the first in terms of the general setup of the photo, but the difference can be seen in the reflection, where a person is putting on headphones instead of reaching into their bag.

Rodgers said Bauer used the gallery space to reinforce the importance of time in her work.

“I really like how she worked with the gallery space — it’s not just stuff where she puts something on the middle of the wall,” he said. “She’s really thought of how [the photos] work in this space.”

In this exhibit, it’s important to look closely to catch little details that might otherwise be overlooked.

Rodgers compared the reality of the moments in the photos versus how Bauer captured them.

“There’s a sort of juxtaposition of this fake model, versus the real thing, but it’s only by wandering around and just looking, and being open to finding these little moments,” Rodgers said.

Soleil is running at Modern Fuel until April 18.



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