In these times, when photographic images are not what they seem, when every face gets a filter, Tom Callemin explores the idea of the body and its identity. Not by resorting to digital manipulation himself, but by creating staged images in the studio with analogue techniques. Callemin places people, animals, objects and plants in his artificial landscapes. They embody ‘personae’ in images that challenge the viewer’s perception.
What are we looking at? What lies hidden in the image? Where does the image not add up? Are we looking, as in Portrait (2019-2021), at someone adopting a role for the camera or is this the actual person as he or she is? Tom Callemin has made this shape-shifting of identity an important theme in his work. He questions our habits of psychological and anthropocentric projection. When is an image an image, and when does it become ‘alive’? When does reciprocity come about between the image and the viewer? The exhibition is, in fact, an ode to the imagination and reflection: for, as all the works show, images transform before our very eyes. But, we might ask, aren’t these images fiction themselves? The way in which Callemin portrays the notion of perpetual transformation and the tension between reality and fiction makes it clear that reality doesn’t exist: …it is a world and not the world.
* reference to the poem ‘At Tikal’, by William Bronk
translation: Beth O’Brien