Kadie Salmon: Restlessly Idling

Kadie Salmon is best known for large-scale black and white photographs, hand-tinted to give a dream-like luminosity, sometimes folded into sculptural forms. Salmon’s works feature figures in remote landscapes, and she uses her own body as model, often repeated multiple times.

In response to the Covid-19 lockdown and a postponed solo exhibition, Salmon recently launched a digital publication covering works from 2014-2020 in collaboration with New Art Projects. Anneka French finds out more.

Anneka French: We met in 2015 at New Art Projects, in Concrete Fictions, a group exhibition that you curated and showed in. It’s good to re-connect, even if it is in this strange lockdown context.

Kadie Salmon: Yes, so many artists have had work cancelled but I think artists are pretty good at adaption. I’m also in my third trimester of pregnancy so thats quite strange! Im looking forward to things opening back up again.

AF: Congratulations! That’s wonderful news.

Could you tell me more about the decision to produce a publication?

KS: I was supposed to have a solo show at New Art Projects in July – an installation of video work called Moon Bathing. Instead, the online publication is creative, engages with an audience and exists on its own terms. Its an opportunity to introduce new work and reflect on past practice, something that I havent really done before, and includes essays by Emma Wilson and Maria Walsh. Conversations with the writers, designers, gallery and myself have all been remote. It was produced over 4-5 weeks and had it not been for lockdown, it might have been more of a catalogue that supported the exhibition rather than a work in itself.

AF: I want to ask you about image selection. The publication shows full images and cropped details (although not labelled as such) adjacent, echoing each other, but not much larger than the original. How do these function?

KS: The word echoing’ is lovely. The artworks themselves are very large and you can see the figures within the landscape in detail when you get up close to the work. I wanted to try to recreate some of that sense of discovery here. There are multiple selves in my work; repetition that people have compared to ghosts. In person, audiences can discover these scenarios in their own time, whereas in the publication, you see several perspectives immediately. It’s quite a different experience.

AF: A book is a world in itself – an immersive experience supported by images. The installation views from Concrete Fictionsthrew me out of that intimate world and back to the gallery context.

KS: I work across sculpture, photography and film. Photographs lend themselves to immersion on almost any platform but you need an installation shot for sculpture. Theres a layer between you and the work that creates disruption, and experiencing works in the flesh is different to seeing an image that I have chosen of a sculpture from one angle. It’s something Im thinking about a lot – the ways a physical object can occupy a two-dimensional space.

AF: Is there a way (or appetite) to treat the installation views like the 2D works, with separate, slightly different images that you click through or which are overlaid to offer multiple views?

KS: Yeah, that’s a good idea. And a physical book could have layers of unravelling, unpeeling and you could play with the quality of the paper. It’s been designed to go to print and theres another layer of intimacy in the physical experience.

AF: Absolutely. A poem by Klara du Plessis is featured towards the back of the publication and in your video Moon Bathing. Could you tell me about your collaboration with her?

KS: The collaboration evolved from a residency in 2018 in Can Serrat, Spain, at the foot of the Montserrat mountain range – a beautiful, tranquil place where we walked in the mountains together every day for hours, talking. Moon Bathing’ was shot in Can Serrat but my own poetry felt too close to the work and I needed something that would resonate but bring a difference. I tried reciting a poem from Klara’s book Ekke’ over the footage and Klara was happy for me to use it. We were due to do another residency together this May at Artexte, Montreal, the city where Klara is based. We hope it will go ahead next year. I’ve shared all of the production stages of ‘Hunting Razorbills’ with Klara and she has written a series of new poems in response. I met multidisciplinary artist Rebecca Glover during a residency at The Florence Trust and she is currently working on a soundscape for ‘Hunting Razorbills’ which is almost complete.

Collaborations are so exciting and rewarding, especially with practitioners outside of visual art. I have tended to do a residency every year for that purpose – that intense time to get to know someone and their work.

AF: The residencies afford you access to new sites.

KS: Exactly. Each work is site-specific and often from a residency – always remote locations – Finland, Norway, the mountains of Spain or the Highlands of Scotland, where I’m from. These are big, stark landscapes that connect to romanticism, fear and power. Hunting Razorbillswas shot in the North Sea last summer and it was absolutely freezing – I think pain comes across in the work! I hadn’t realised that, over the years, every location had been cold and similar in some way to the Highlands of Scotland although Can Serrat was hot and I wanted to experience a different colour palette, a sensual heat and dreaminess. I associate cold climates with pleasure and pain.

AF: Is there any fruitfulness to the residency’s delay? So much of your work is about anticipation or restlessly idling.

KS: Yes. I like that description!

AF: You’re going through a multiplication of the self in physical terms currently. Do you have plans to make work about pregnancy or motherhood?

KS: Yes, absolutely – it feels quite natural to be working on a new piece in response to the pregnancy. I’m researching archetypes of pregnant women and mothers in fairy tales and the wild woman’in connection to metamorphosis – relationships between fear, love, desire, violence. Im talking a friend into helping me with a photoshoot and Ive got footage of the baby from the sonograph. Her spine or face comes out of nowhere, out of the darkness. It’s very animal, alien even.


Kadie Salmon’s new publication can be accessed:here

The artist’s website is:here

Published by Photomonitor, September 2020