April 12, 2013
by Stuart Franklin
The Magnum Print Room is delighted to announce Stuart Franklin's new exhibition, Narcissus.
Narcissus is a collection of extraordinary landscape photographs taken by Franklin over a five year period in the region of Møre og Romsdal on Norway’s western fjordland. Beginning in 2009, Franklin bought a cottage by a lake on the island of Otrøya, spending a great deal of time there over the following years. The resultant body of work documents his experience in this remote place, which led to a deeper understanding and sensitivity for the abundance around him in an environment that at first seemed barren. These very tranquil, contemplative, anthropomorphic and introverted landscape photographs time and again seek references to human beings—a path, a chopping block in a far corner of the property, the reflection of the silhouette of a mountain in a lake that seems to melt into a human portrait. An urbanite encounters a small, special piece of nature and sees his reflection in it.
Long associated with landscape photography, Franklin engaged with the subject from as early as the mid 1970’s whilst studying in Farnham, Surrey, where he set off to explore the landscape of Thomas Hardy’s Dorset. Later, during the 1980’s he was drawn to the post-industrial landscape of Alsace-Lorraine and Northern England but as more of a documentary incentive. He has also documented the rapid changes in the European landscape, culminating in his book ‘Footprint: Our landscape in Flux’ (Thames and Hudson, 2008). Other relevant publications include ‘The Time of Trees’ (1999 Leonardo Arte, Milan) which examines the social relationship between nature and society.
Franklin’s trip to Norway followed a busy period of assignments and three years as Magnum’s president. The remoteness of the Norwegian location provided him with space and time to think which enabled the development of a more personal and subjective approach to landscape. Franklin acknowledges the change in his approach as a backing away from political engagement with the pressing issues of the day: an economic crisis, widespread unemployment, and war always over the horizon, but the work highlights that time taken to slow down, to think, to reflect, to photograph in one place is still a political as much as a creative act.
Born in London in 1956 and a Magnum member since 1985, Franklin graduated in photography and film at West Surrey College of Art & Design and holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Oxford. Franklin's coverage of the Sahel famine from 1984 to 1985 won him acclaim, but he is perhaps best known for his celebrated photograph of a man defying a tank in Tiananmen Square, China, in 1989, which won him a World Press Photo Award. Since 1990, Franklin has completed over twenty assignments for National Geographic. His documentary photography has taken him to Central and South America, China, Southeast Asia and Europe. Significant publications apart from those mentioned, include ‘The Dynamic City’ (in press – Mondadori 2003), examining the evolution and everyday life of cities, Hôtel Afrique, an exploration of Africa's elite hotels (Dewi Lewis, 2007) and Sea Fever, (Bardwell Press, 2005) a documentary project about the British coastline.
Narcissus provided Franklin with an opportunity to create something new, to examine the genre of landscape photography more closely despite having photographed landscape extensively for years. The result is an intimate portrait and palpable personal connection to place.
Until mid June 2013