Eric Gyamfi transforms the gallery into a monochromatic cosmos, examining how photography can shift meanings and histories – ‘fixing shadows’ of legacy, absence, and revival. Thousands of cyanotype prints densely cover the gallery walls in the first UK solo exhibition of the artist’s work. In each one, Gyamfi blends his own image with a portrait of the transgressive, African American composer Julius Eastman (1940-1990).
Eastman was a musical prodigy, a radical classical composer and Grammy-nominated vocalist who combined minimalism with political provocation and elements of pop music. In 1976, Eastman proclaimed “what I am trying to achieve is to be what I am to the fullest: Black to the fullest, a musician to the fullest, a homosexual to the fullest”. His oeuvre reflected his lived experience, and he regarded his compositions as ‘organic music’. Eastman built his scores through experimental techniques of repetition and accumulation followed by gradual disintegration. His music was nearly lost after his death, and it is only in recent years that Eastman’s legacy - and importance in the canon of music - has been revived.
Fixing Shadows – Julius and I is Gyamfi’s personal homage to the composer. Each image is unique, thousands of subtle variations in which their faces merge and reappear in new forms. He first came across a portrait of Eastman in 2018, which marked the artist’s prolonged encounter with the radical musician. Curious how people 'read' images, Gyamfi collected responses to his and Eastman's portraits via WhatsApp voice notes, which later influenced the cyanotypes. Gyamfi cuts across time, using one of photography’s earliest processes to mirror Eastman’s methodologies, allowing for happenstance as each image is repeated and reimagined. Hovering between autobiography and fiction, Fixing Shadows – Julius and I presents a constellation in which the photographic image is presented as a powerful yet ambiguous means of storytelling.
Eric Gyamfi (b. 1990, Ghana) is a photographer living and working in Ghana. He is interested in the medium and forms of the photographic, often experimenting with the hybrid nature of analogue, digital and chemical processes.
Gyamfi has a B.A in Information studies and with Economics from the University of Ghana (2010 to 2014), and is currently pursuing an MFA at the Department of painting and sculpture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (2018 - ). He is also a fellow at the Photographers’ Master Class (Khartoum, Sudan 2016 and Nairobi, Kenya 2017, Johannesburg, South Africa 2018). Gyamfi was a participant of the Nuku Studio Photography Workshops (2016) and World Press Photo West African Master Class (2017), both in Accra. His works have featured in A Diagnosis of time; Unlearn What You Have Learned (2021), Ecologies and Politics of the Living (Vienna Biennale 2021), The 11th and 12th Bamako encounters (2017/2019) and others.
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