NEIL HAMON
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Neil Hamon has produced a recent body of work using photography and taxidermy to explore the blurred boundary between invention and physical evidence—the traces of reality or index (a semiotic term). An avid reader of the novels and short stories of the British writer J. G. Ballard (“We live inside an enormous novel. The fiction is already there”), Hamon is interested in history and its nature as filtered, as well as in our need or compulsion for remembering and preserving.

Born and raised in the Channel Island of Jersey, which was occupied by the Nazis during World War II, at a young age Hamon was exposed to haunting historic vestiges, such as German fortifications and bunkers either left untouched or converted into tourist attractions. His experience as a sculpture restorer may have further sharpened his already heightened awareness of historic authenticity. In his series Living History (2002–04) Hamon photographed persons around the United Kingdom performing historic re-enactments of various wars—the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and the Yugoslav Wars. The pictures typically look like believable military portraits of the time. Visually and conceptually, they shift between documentation and fiction in ways reminiscent of, yet distinct from, documentary photography. They also recall the performative photo fiction of Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, David Levinthal, and, more recently, Thomas Demand.

In addition to his two-dimensional work, Hamon has made installations in which photographs from Living History are paired with sculptures in which another kind of reconstruction, that of nature, is conversely blatant, featuring the leitmotif of the fishing fly—a metaphor for Hamon’s own production. As the artist explained, his work is “not about the notion of the artist as revealing truths but about the complex relationship between imitation, presentation, and seduction.”

© Anna Mecugni 2007

52nd Biennale di Venezia Catalogue, Marsilio, 2007. ISBN 978-0847830015

Neil Hamon
Anna Mecugni
David Thorp
Eduarda de Souza
Ben Borthwick
Simon Morrissey
Simon Morrissey
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