Chinese rivers, Arctic fissures and coloured balls on Flowers Gallery's Uncommon Ground

By Ben Miller Published: 23 July 2012

A photo of a small white hut with a pink top exterior on top of green mountain terrain
Scarlett Hooft Graafland, White (2004). C-type print© Scarlett Hooft Graafland, courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery
Exhibition: Uncommon Ground, Flowers Gallery, London, until September 1 2012

Sometimes, the act of simply observing drastically altered landscapes can sow enough questions. Edward Burtynsky, the revered Canadian artist and large format pioneer, finds China’s controversial Three Gorges Dam while it was under construction on the Yangtze river here, and landscape interventions are rarely as colossal or impactful as that (when it was flooded, the Dam displaced more than a million people, causing a seismic tremor.)

Andrea Galvani, who recently described himself to The New Yorker as “more like a hunter” while waiting and deciding when to take photos, documents the first phase of an experiment held off the coast of islands in the Arctic Circle, playing back the sound of an iceberg collapsing at a frequency capable of creating a new fissure.

In Higgs Ocean #12, Galvani records, amplifies and projects the sound of shifting ice, reproducing “violent actions in the landscape” to perpetuate the power of a natural phenomenon through looping effects.

Jason Larkin follows the trail of an early 19th century plan by British marines to increase rainfall by planting botanical scrap on the highest peak of a mountain on a remote South Atlantic Ocean, leaving a large-scale “planned forest” to this day, while Peter Ainsworth turns his eyes to the slightly smaller scale process of wrapping plants in a suburban garden in frost-protective material, introduced by his father in a ploy which controls aspects of the environment and creates forms with sculptural qualities.

Chris Engman and David Spero’s works are less grounded: Engman uses the movements of the sun to make surrealist structures on undeveloped land, above oceans and in deserts, using basic materials and earth. Spero turns coloured balls into “constellations” inside domestic interiors and dance studios.

Andy Goldsworthy tests his understanding of nature amid the buzz of the city in New York Dirt Water Light, a series of time-based shots of debris, passing strollers and natural and artificial light. The quietude of them, it is suggested, contrasts urban noise and activity with silent simplicity.

Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, London. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm. Admission free.

More pictures:

A photo of a willowy green plant arching out of fragile, clay-like brown rural terrain
Jason Larkin, Ascension #3 (2011). Archival inkjet print© Jason Larkin
A photo of a wooden structure in the desert, making a squat cross shape out of holes
Chris Engman, Equivalence (2009). Archival Inkjet Print© Chris Engman
A photo of a coated figure on a boat on Arctic waters holding out a recording device
Andrea Galvani, Higgs Ocean #12 (2010). C-print mounted on aluminum dibond wood white frame© Andrea Galvani, courtesy the artist and Meulensteen Gallery, New York
A photo of a mirrored dance studio with balls of different colours forming angles on the floors and walls
David Spero, Studio 3, Hallituskatu (2007). C-type print© David Spero