Cooper & Gorfers work is based on the personal and collective stories of place, where the pictures become condensed impressions showing the latent and ephemeral rather than the obvious. Place and story are the catalysts of their work - transforming narrative and memories into image. But the images that emerge out of the stories take on lives of their own. Like the portrait in Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture of Dorian Grey”, Cooper & Gorfers images show more than just an objective view of the person portrayed. Instead, they also depict something we can not see - the past, the insubstantial and intangible, where the life and sentiment of the person photographed are woven together with the artists perception and experience of the moment. In the end their pictures are the stories’ beautiful remains.
Cooper & Gorfers work is photographic, where the picture taken is the initial substance to the image, but thereafter subjected to multiple layers of manipulation in a subsequent working process of photographic collage, surface transformations and painting. There is a highly seductive notion to Cooper & Gorfers images. The modification of surface properties evoke an almost haptic material experience, while the contained threads of art historical references allow the viewer to render additional associations within every image: from the dream like parallel world of the Pre-Raphaelites, to the startling juxtapositions and suggestive manner of surrealism.
The exhibition, Under Nomadic Surfaces,shows a selection of work from two of the Cooper & Gorfer series, Kyrgyzstan and Qatar, each based on travel. On these journeys the artists work in parallel as directors, photographers and authors: casting the people they meet into the stories they gather. By focussing on the cognition of the human element, rather than on political, religious or social views, the artists bridge the differences between two countries, that despite their disparity, share elemental features: nomadic history, Islamic culture, and almost more importantly, the confrontation with change in an attempt to redefine their identity on the cusp of transformation.
Cooper & Gorfer consists of the two artists Sarah Cooper (USA, 1974) and Nina Gorfer (Austria, 1979). With their backgrounds in art, architecture, and photography they began their collaboration in 2006 and are now living and working in Göteborg, Sweden.