Beat Streuli @IKON Gallery

Last night was the launch of Streuli’s exhibition of his street photography named ‘New Street’. Spread over two floors there was a collection of 3 metre tall prints, 3 metre tall projections, 90s television sets and flat screens. The multimedia still and moving images gave a great aesthetic to the work, giving it movement and portraying movement of time.

On the first floor was his series between Sydney, Brussels, New York, São Paulo, Guangzhou and Cape Town. These were 3 metre tall prints which were attached together like a film strip. For me this indicated a continuum of a narrative in a particular area. But on the other hand, it appeared as though Streuli uses architecture as a way of collaging images together to create new streets as it were. Having the work continuing round the corners of the room reminded me of his street installations on billboards in Milan.

I found myself looking at the people themselves less but the corners of the frames more to see how he has knitted them together.

In the Tower Room on the second floor there was a video of two men at a bus stop, completely unaware of Streuli. The atmosphere presented was sombre, just as the sitters watched and waited for the world to go by. The Tower Room is a small dark room away from the main gallery, which highlighted the isolation of these two men.

In the main gallery on the second floor were the projections which ran as a slide show. The images on the three installed walls collaborated together in a similar way to how the prints did. However, there was a lot more reference to architecture and logos in this piece and Simon Taylor, of IKON Gallery, said that Streuli’s interest has swayed more to this area of photography. This much is apparent as Streuli dictated that three installed walls would be put in place which would act as perfect frames for the work, as opposed to being lost on a wall. I asked Streuli about this as Taylor introduced us and he said that he does have an eye for framing and architecture in how he orders his photographs.

We noticed as well that his earlier moving images from the mid nineties of people sat on the street talking were displayed on old television sets. He said that having the old style VHS on what is was meant to be viewed on is more encompassing and that it would not look right on a HD television set. I found it extremely interesting actually speak to the photographer in front of his work.

The last piece of the exhibition I would like to discuss is the side room which was long and narrow; at the end were two flat screens side by side of two different streets with people walking up and down. The small room was actually very empty which juxtaposed with the busy crowds on the screen. Looking at the work for an extended amount of time I started to notice how Streuli’s use of fixing works together was echoed over two screens. As one person left the frame to the side, on the next screen someone else would walk in as though the two are connected, again creating a ‘new street’ dynamic.

Speaking to Streuli I asked him where he is drawn to now. He said that he now lives in Brussels like he has for the last 6 years. I asked whether the architecture of people there act as inspiration for himto which he replied “yes at the beginning, I photographed the migrant communities there which I have published […] but not much since”. He is a calm and collected man, quite quiet which adds to how he lurks unknowingly in front of his subjects. For once I actually really enjoyed a piece of artwork in a gallery with absolutely everything considered. Fantastic.

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