In the past month, OAMC presented Our Apt Mental Climb at Spazio Maiocchi, an event fusing art, photography and design through an exhibition by Jordan Hemingway. New York artist based between London and Paris, Jordan Hemingway is known for imagery that touches the viewer with honesty, beauty and brutality: his work challenges hackneyed stereotypes of beauty.
This is just one of the aspects that characterize the eclecticism of Jordan Hemingway’s artistic research; the artist is now focusing on a series of different projects that allow him to channel his powerful creative vision. Jordan Hemingway directed the latest music video Miriam for the band Curses, creating a moody aesthetic that perfectly fits the band’s post-punk influences. Submerged in a haunting blue, the video begins with a curtain call, an entrance into the shadowy confines of Curses’ seemingly damned world. Although the video mimics the stark lighting of the film The Hunger, it also recalls the nocturnal extremities of another goth film classic, 1994’s The Crow. Both films, striking in their scope, can be found in Hemingway’s interpretation of Miriam, the character who symbolizes the resilience of love as opposed to its ability to destroy anyone who stands in its way; in other words, an ode to the beauty of tragedy that is here portrayed by the director in a gothic key. In fashion publishing, I want to mention the latest work created by Hemingway for The Perfect Magazine, where Cate Blanchett appears on the cover of their second issue, immortalized as the protagonist of a sensual “cold-light” thriller. Not to mention the work WITHSTAND THE FALL OF TIME, a site-specific installation which is the latest art project realised by the artist in collaboration with Alban Adam for Palermo Art Weekend, a cultural project dedicated to contemporary art and curated by Maria Abramenko.
Hemingway’s exhibition titled Death of a Mountain features a personal selection of images of the Swiss mountains photographed over the last 10 years on various hikes with his father while experiencing the therapeutic and spiritual value that the mountains offer. Spirituality, associated with the human motivation and potential to experience connection with the sacred and divine, is a common aspect of nature experience, and for centuries mountains have had an unusual power to awaken a sense of the sacred. Their soaring peaks, the clouds and thunder that swirl around their summits, the life-giving waters that flow from their heights, these and other features imbue them with an aura of mystery and holiness. In that aura, people of different backgrounds, both traditional and modern, experience a deeper reality that gives meaning and vitality to their lives, as in the case of artist Jordan Hemingway, who captures in the life of the mountains and in the relationship establishes with them a cue to reflect on the fate of humankind.
For the past 20 years the artist has been hiking in the mountains, witnessing firsthand the painful destruction of these beautiful historical monuments. The images in the exhibition convey to the viewer all the fear and sense of sadness for the uncertain times ahead; an emotion that is conveyed by the precariousness of the ice photographed in their stunted condition, impeccably rendered by the coldness of the light in the photographs. In the images presented at the exhibition, moonlight casts a strong shadow over misty peaks and alien landscapes: enveloping the mountains in a spiral of mystery. The mountains are the subject and object of the work, and they send back to the viewer a sense of exhaustion; the cracks and holes in the once strong ice make the mountains weep in the valleys. These images plunge daylight into the night in an image that depicts the pain that mountains feel as glaciers crumble and slide away, unearthing millions of years of thick, resilient ice. The pictures were taken over the past 10 years during various hikes in Switzerland that the artist undertook with his father, and this detail offers to the viewer an additional perspective; the mountains were the space in which to cultivate their relationship, and at the same time a starting point for comprehending the human relationship with the world. For centuries, the relationship with the father figure has been an object of investigation for several artists, who recognize in the parental relationship a starting point for investigating their inner complexity. Very often, this figure is too complex to be circumscribed in a conventional manner, but what emerges from the works featured in this exhibition is that the father figure becomes in these circumstances, taking place in the harsh and desolate lands, a firm foothold to look at the brutality of reality. It is thanks to the reassuring presence of his father that the artist is able to detach himself from earthly toil to look at the mountains as a metaphor for human existence, as complex as it is fragile.
Through this perspective, the author invites us to reflect on the therapeutic and spiritual value that the mountains offer; the strictness of these landscapes gave the subject the mental space he needed to remain sane in this unstable world. As sacred expressions of a deeper reality, mountains have always been associated with the highest and deepest values and aspirations of cultures and traditions around the world. In Jordan Hemingway’s photography, the mountains are the preamble from which a path of inner reflection emerges, and then evolves into a reflection on the fate of humanity in contemporary times, making the exhibition a timeless collective of human emotions.
“I believe so strongly in the therapeutic and spiritual value the mountains offer, the monotony of one foot in front of the other, the physical exertion, the danger, and the vast and stunning landscapes have offered me the space in my mind I need to keep sane in this crazy world.” Jordan Hemingway
Jordan Hemingway / Death of a Mountain
Artist: Jordan Hemingway / @jordan_hemingway
Words: Alisia Marcacci / @miabrowe
Editor: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko