Dune Varela: Always the Sun

Cloitre Saint-Trophime, Arles; 03/07/17 to 24/09/17

This won the 2017 BMW Residency, and the blurb explains that Valera “questions and mishandles photography”, which didn’t really make sense until I saw it. She examines the fragility of photography, specifically the fragility of the photographic support.

She prints photos onto materials like stone and ceramic, then breaks them. The subject matter of the photographs is mostly ancient monuments and venerable museum, so I think perhaps she’s drawing the connection between the impermanence of cultural heritage icons and the impermanence of photography, even though both have an illusion of permanence.

She takes some images and prints them onto aluminium then shoots bullets through them (so she ‘shoots’ them twice).


In the end it’s technically interesting more than it is genuinely engaging; it’s postmodern in a way, photography about the nature of photography, and might have limited interest outside geeky photography students like myself.

Main takeaway

Making the photograph itself part of the subject matter is something I want to investigate for my major project, so it’s informative to discover that there are still new ways of doing so – maybe it’s only limited by the artist’s imagination. But I also need to be aware of the risk of the narrow audience that can accompany such postmodern work.