"Chaos is not the opposite of rhythm but the milieu of all milieus"
Deleuze & Guattari

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus Cukurcuma Hamam I, 2012
 Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery
Photo Onur Dag

Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus NP3, 2012
 Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery
Photo Cassander Eeftinck Shattenkerk
Berndnaut Smilde's Nimbus photographs were some of the best received imagery of last year. The series is showing in The Uncanny, which opens tonight at the Ronchini gallery. Less often seen are Smilde's Cumulus works, which are very different in character despite their same cloudy subject.

Although I like the Cumulus models, their reframing of a natural phenomenon is less magical, less awe-inspiring than the Nimbus sequence. Architectural models just don't hold the same empathetic draw as large format photos of real interior spaces setting off the fluffy white spectacles.
Berndnaut Smilde, Cumulus- Mijnsherenlaan 2, 2012
Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery

Berndnaut Smilde, Cumulus- Adlergasse 1, 2011 
Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery
Metaphorical readings relating to entrapment and impermanence could abound when talking about the Nimbus pieces but I'd rather focus on the sense of surprise they generate. It gives the viewer that moment of wonder we so often miss in the pre-emptive Googlable world. Although I'd suggest that Google ad words have more of the Uncanny about them than Berndnaut's clouds, the double-take factor has brought the Nimbus pictures the celebration they deserve.

That these images have remained so popular is perhaps testament to something more permanent than wonder - and that is beauty. Whether seeing one of the individual images for a second, third, fourth time, or seeing the different versions in their fantastic interior sets across the series, you are still struck by a moment of dreaminess and awe each time you see these photographs. Which after all may be the perfect uncanny image - a bundle of suggested metaphors wrapped up neatly to strike you every time. 

Adeline de Monseignat, Loleta, 2012
Vintage Fur, pillow filler, glass, motor, wood on 2 tonnes of sand
Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery

Dree Hemingway for Mania Mania's Astral Plane story
Photography by David Mandelberg

Surreal sculpture and photography by Adeline de Monseignat places oversized fur balls and micro sandscapes like cabinets-of-curiosity details alongside Smilde's clouds in The Uncanny. Aside from Dali, they bring to mind the Black Rock desert in Nevada, where Burning Man is held, and Mania Mania's Astral Plane shoot starring Dree Hemingway.

[The Smithsonian has more on Smilde and his cloud-making.]