Press Release

“O Snake you are an argument for poetry”
Margaret Atwood. Psalm to Snake (1983)

Snake, is a multi-dimensional exhibition using photography, text and technology within the gallery space.The seven large-scale, abstracted photographs of women and girls pictured holding, and gazing fondly at snakes, are overlaid with bold screen printed poems. This poetry is produced using an online generator and entering the word ‘Snake’ into the search request. Each image is a sum of two opposing mediums - both fighting for understanding and interpretation, neither one winning or losing.

The images of women and snakes, which comment on both Strand’s fascination with the reptile, whilst firmly asserting her repulsion, are drawn from the artist’s long-term collection of utilitarian imagery.

‘My agenda has never been to judge the photos on an atheistic level. If a woman is holding a snake and has control, then the photograph went into the collection. I have been finding and keeping these images since I was 13, never really knowing why.’

‘The snake has been the subject of allegory and metaphor throughout recorded history, and is a presence in countless fables, legends and religious texts, often referring to the phallus and sexuality. The symbol of the snake is also regularly cited as a metaphor for opposing forces, such as good and evil; cunning and wisdom; procreation and death. I am interested in these dialectal tensions and in the notion that what repels can be what also attracts; what hurts can be what comforts. Snake for me, is a vehicle to talk about these polarities.’

Historically the photographic image has been recognised as the objective recorder of concise information, at odds with other artistic modes, which are considered more lyrical or demanding of analysis and reflection. This is particularly apparent within the polarised relationship between photography and poetry.

As Wittgenstein provoked; ‘Do not forget that a poem, although it is composed in the language of information, it is not used in the language-game of giving information.’

The laughing women in the photographs appear to have a command and firm grip on their creatures, presenting expressions of power, control and a possible striking of a balance, whilst the highly-coloured, screen printed texts shout out in ways similar to the tropes of a protest banner. Alongside the exhibited works, another poem generator works to project onto the walls of the gallery, creating new random arrangements of Strand’s poems. The automatic text is printed out as a snaking ticker tape for the audience to tear off and take away.