The Escapades of the Higher Man: Tom Pope
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
Until 18 April 2010
Playful, absurd images combine performance and photography to break the shackles of gravity and social convention. Following on from previous work in which Pope is seen jumping tree-high as country strollers go about their usual business. In this new exhibition Pope takes to the narrow French streets, the work created as part of a photography residency at the Atelier de Visu, Marseilles.
The Escapades of the Higher Man seeks to address Nietzsche’s thoughts about ‘God’s successor’ being a higher man learning to live by a new set of rules. Combining this with the influence of Yves Klein’s photograph Leap into the Void (1960, pictured right). In Pope’s work the suited man is not falling but rising, from letting pedestrians walk all over him to scaling walls, throwing a bucket of water to the heavens, capturing the stream frozen mid-air with a hand-held shutter. These works have the immediacy of a snapshot, both in energy, and less fortunately, in print quality which could have been sharper.
From creative contortionist to conjurer, Pope pulls off his most impressive image; a large rug hangs mid- air seemingly by itself. It jars because it is the only image in which the artist cannot be seen. An instance where, at first we are not sure how the artist did it. Pope is in the image and yet invisible leaping from the ground behind this magic carpet masked by the shadow it casts behind him. Defying the Earth’s gravitational pull; free at last.