Elizabeth McAlpine
Light Reading
31 Mar 2017 – 14 May 2017

Laura Bartlett Gallery is pleased to present Light Reading, a solo exhibition by Elizabeth McAlpine. Cinema, and photography, on which it rests – are obsessively materialist media. McAlpine with the three new series of works presented in the exhibition draws our attention to film’s unique ability to render time within spatial and material properties. A distinctly non-linear notion of time echoes through the works, presenting a geological and archaeological approach to material offering up a testament to physicality and imperfection.

McAlpine’s recent series, Ends (Sprayed Sound) consists of a number of synaesthetic C-Type prints made from the terminal ‘ends’ of a film reel, layered, rather than arranged side by side. Here, the viewer is presented with a photographic ‘instant’, as a once moving image is made static, and a once collective film strip made singular, by the condensation of each layer of 35mm film (0.0416 of a second) into one composite whole. The specific ends become abstract beginnings, folded by the artist into concertinas of nostalgia and critique. Curtains of colour bleed through the margins, evoking the blotted paper of a litmus test. The colour comes from the part of the filmstrip that records the sound, endowing the works with a sensory quality, as their titles suggest. The ends possess the ghosts, the remnants of the footage – the ‘cinematic sediment’ of human interaction; the ends record the accidents, the scratches and abrasions – the memory of a previous image: a readymade, made new.

These grazes can also be seen to litter the surface of Light Reading (Californian Sunset) as flecks of dust flicker noisily upon a background of shifting, sunset hues. As the film transitions from yellow through red, to blue, snippets of sound interrupt the gradation, blinking with a temporal tick, as the darkness grows. As with Ends (Sprayed Sound), the film is made using found 35mm footage – this time from trailers for feature length films. As such, it echoes an earlier work from 2005, called simply Light Reading, in which the artist condensed 1,500 frames into one minute of pure light from explosions in narrative films.

McAlpine’s sculpture, The Raid (101 Minutes) transforms a duration into a static physical object. In this work, each celluloid frame of a film has been cut and stacked vertically in seven lengths, so that the typical physical experience of the film (moving image, time, and light) is reduced to an immediate, dark physical mass.


Elizabeth McAlpine (b.1973, London) lives and works in Arles, France. Her work has been included in the following selected exhibitions; Collected at Pier 24, San Francisco, Ordinary Pictures at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, On Exactitude and Science at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Secret Life of Images, Kunstverein Freiburg, Freiburg, The Lasting at National Gallery of Modern Art Rome, Everyday Epiphanies, Photography and Daily Life Since 1969 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York as well as Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Australia and Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne; Spike Island, London; The Barbican, London; Kadist Foundation, Paris, deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts.

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