Chloe Sells: Moth’s Breath at Michael Hoppen Contemporary, London

A new series of photographic works by Chloe Sells titled Moth’s Breath is currently on display at Michael Hoppen Contemporary until 31 August . This exhibition marks the first solo show of Sells’ work at Michael Hoppen Contemporary. Informed by extensive travel, residence and immersion in countries foreign to her, Sells explores the question of how places are defined, while speculating on the consequences of human experience of place. Is a place fixed, or continually shifting? Do people shape the particularities of space as they encounter it? From a distinct orientation, what is revealed about comfort or fear, revulsion or curiosity?

Using the stylised and archetypal format of the still life, the objects within the body of work are symbolic surrogates, coordinates embedded with notations of exploration and movement. Relics of archaic civilisations, organic matter in varying states of decay, elements of the quotidian, the utilitarian, the exotic and the occult constitute the carefully-constructed totems. Without conferring a specific history, the objects summoned together within each image create rather than re-create narratives. Sells’ arrangements become less a document of an actual place, and more an allegory of her relationships to those places.

Each of the works is a unique analogue C-type print, handmade by Sells using conventional negatives overlaid with colour and patterns in the darkroom, subverting the tradition of the meticulously created tableaux. The darkroom process itself is physical, dynamic and time-consuming, constituting a further mapping of the journey. The artifice created through unusual colour and warped light is used to heighten tension between the familiar and the exotic. Image fragments and oddly cut prints have been sketched and painted upon so that each outcome is unique.

Chloe Sells: Moth’s Breath, 21 June until 31 August, Michael Hoppen Contemporary, 3 Jubilee Place, London SW3 3TD.

Image: Chloe Sells, The Remains of the Day, 2012. © Chloe Sells, courtesy of Michael Hoppen Contemporary

Read more about the exhibition in 10 to see, in our June/July issue of Aesthetica out now.