Geoffrey Farmer’s international reputation was confirmed with his critically acclaimed installation ‘Leaves of Grass’ at Documenta 13, Kassel 2012. This work, built upon the artist’s research in image collections, was developed from vintage ‘Life’ magazines published between 1935 and 1985. Organised chronologically, the work takes the form of 16,000 figures collaged together from clippings from the magazine, mounted on to dried grass sticks and displayed on a narrow 124-foot table. Referencing Walt Whitman’s 1855 poetry collection, which Whitman considered a modern portrait of the United States and to an essay ‘America, Seen Through Photographs, Darkly’, written by Susan Sontag in 1973.
Currently on tour, the mechanical play ‘Let’s Make the Water Turn Black’, 2014, uses the life of Frank Zappa as a structuring device to create a day-long kaleidoscopic event. Populated with sculptures who perform various acts in an ever-shifting computer generated score, the work touches on various subjects: Edgard Varèse to the L.A. Riots; Pachuco music to Zappa’s own editing technique, which he termed ‘Xenochrony’. This work was described recently by writer Jan Verwoert as ‘a magical backstreet symphony or lost things.’
Geoffrey Farmer (born Vancouver, 1967) lives and works in Vancouver. Recent exhibitions were held at Project Arts Centre, Dublin (with Jeremy Millar), REDCAT, Los Angeles (both 2011). He exhibited at Documenta 13, Kassel, in 2012 and at the Barbican Centre, London, in 2013. In 2014 he will have a retrospective of his work at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Image: ‘Leaves of Grass’, 2012. Shadow puppets made from ‘Life’ magazines (1935 to 1985 displayed in chronological order), tall grass, glue. Dimensions vary. Special thanks to the Morris/Trasov Archive.