A review of Revolv Collective's curated show 'Grafting: The Land and the Artist' as part of 2024's Photo50 at London Art Fair. 
To read the published article complete with images please follow the link below to Photomonitor 
Grafting: The Land and the Artist defies “convention” in every sense of the word. Deep within London Art Fair, under fluorescent light, there is a new germination of ideas that has been brought to this year’s Photo50, one that speaks of the reality of photographic labour and the importance of being facilitators to the land, not exploiters.  Curated by Revolv Collective, and exhibiting some thirteen artistic practices, this is an exhibition that rallies against commercialism, egocentricism, as well as pre-conceptions about what photography is and where it ends.

In this year’s Photo50, a collection of artists can be found who have applied photography not as a method to depict, but rather as a conduit to collaborate with ecology in the most physically immediate ways. It is with this emphasis on collaboration then that we see artists exuding immense effort and innovation in the creation of works that facilitate the land in expressing itself. Whether it be in Carr’s film, Yorkshire Dirt (2022), printed entirely onto soil gathered on-site, Hannah Fletcher’s Reclamation, 2022, whereby her steel sculpture, by method of extracting silver halides, purifies used photographic fixer, or Jackson Whitefield’s mineral rubbings alongside photographic prints, the artists on display here often combine tactility and control with measured abandon. Natural processes are free to take effect with an autonomy all their own, often taking the work beyond human categorisation, speaking purely as their ontological self.

Whilst the processes on display here may be relatively free from human classification it is still important to mention the impact the land has on its people: the land imprinting itself on us and not us on it. Johannesburg art collective MADEYOULOOK dissects the exhibition space with an iteration of their installation Ejaradini. In this work the duo-collective demonstrates how labour in relation to land acted as a crux by which communities during apartheid South Africa could turn to gardening and cultivation as a point of defiance against racial injustice. The archive images, alongside plant life, display how urban gardening offered many discriminated Black and Indian communities an opportunity to build social communities. This then depicts labour as a form of love and grounding to both a specific land and people, one which endures to this day. In a similar vein, Eugénie Shinkle’s Ideal City (Somebody Else’s Landscape), 1998, uses JMW Turner’s representation of the English landscape as an impetus to propagate a pastiche that used the labour-intensive task of intricately stitching contact images as form of tonic, assuaging feelings of alienation.

Educational practices also enter Revolv Collective’s rendition of Photo50, with Joshua Bilton’s two-year student engagement for Seed Pod undergoing a metamorphosis, transitioning from lived pedagogy into installation. Here Bilton collates thoughts, feelings, and experiences from young children he has worked with as they physically engage with nature and ecology. Whilst eloquently put together as a display, there remains a clear homage to its true intentions as a socially engaged workshop. It is possible to see in Bilton’s work a close tie to Revolv’s origins; a collective that places emphasis in teaching and dissemination of a topic through collective thought and audience engagement.

Many of the artworks on display here are not necessarily a point of completion, but rather a signifier to what is an ongoing process. They are moments gleaned from overarching investigations, specimens from a larger whole that do however find a sense of temporary, and holistic rest amongst their contemporaries on display here by way of Revolv’s exceptional curation and clarity of vision.
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