Thursday, 27 February 2014

Gina Soden

The photographic work of Gina Soden

 Gina Soden

Next door to my house in Chlomotiana, Corfu is a ruined cottage. The roof has collapsed and the walls are crumbling. On the floor is a wooden chair, half crushed by falling masonry but on the wall, still hanging there after many years, is a faded family photograph.

The lives of former inhabitants of such places is what interest me, rather than the decay of the building itself. In Ireland once I came across a ruined village, completely empty. It was as if the villagers had left suddenly, leaving many of their personal possessions behind to rot and decay.

Photographer Gina Soden is obsessed with decay. There are no people in her stunning photographs, for these are abandoned public buildings, including a lunatic asylum. Occasionally there is the odd reminder that real people lived here but mostly it is the broken, decaying textures and colours that she captures with her camera.

'The more likely the building is about to fall down, the better. The looser the wallpaper, the sadder the state of repair and the more likely she is to encounter a mad guard dog, security man or whizzing CCTV camera, the more exciting' - or so she claims in an article recently published in the Independent.

“I was confronted by a barking dog and a very aggressive security guard who accused me of breaking and entering which of course I never do. I had found my way in through a board which had simply been propped up against a door frame,” she says.

“I was pretty annoyed as he wanted my memory cards and he had called the police...I quickly stuffed my memory cards in my pants when he had his back turned to ensure my pictures couldn't be erased.”

Her technique (hyper-realism, square on compositions) reminds me of Jan Saudek but minus the people. Her awareness of texture is exceptional and although I assume she works mostly with only natural light, her images have a strange luminosity. Moreover, considering that she has little time in these buildings (and should not be there in the first place!), they are remarkably well composed and technically accomplished. 

The buildings she has chosen represent a time of wealth - either individual or institutional - but now sadly abandoned. It is up to the viewer to contemplate the fate of such places and the people who once gave them life.

Mike Healey
Gina Soden's exhibition: Retrogression is exhibited at The Groucho Club, London and opens today (Friday 22nd March)

To find out more about Gina Soden, then click on the link below for her own website:

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