Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Idris Khan

I've been a huge fan of Idris Khan's ever since seeing his work at Miami Basel a couple of years ago. This 29 year old British photographer creates multi-layered images by repeatatively photographing and superimposing like images - usually appropriated from art and books - so that he ends up with a single photograph of things like every page of the score of Beethoven's sonatas or every William Turner postcard from Tate Britain. (Pictured below.)

It's conceptual and somewhat insidery but Khan's pictures are powerful, original, striking, and usually quite large. Strangely he does not seem to have made a huge impression in the States yet in spite of shows at Fraenkel in San Francisco and a recent three week show at Yvon Lambert in New York that came and went without notice.

Here are three more images - "Every ... Nicholas Nixon's Brown Sisters"; "Every... Bernd and Hilla Becher Spherical Type Gasholders"; and "Every ... Page of the Holy Koran".


Joerg said...

This certainly is an interesting technique, and the Becher one I love (it appears to have been used on a CD cover by a rock band). But then once you see a few, it's a bit harder to see where this all goes. It's a bit like Thomas Ruff's new work on jpegs - the first set I found quite spectacular, but now that there's a second (or third) set (and show!) I'm wondering whether there shouldn't be something else... Know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

James, Are you familiar with the work of Jason Salavon? I can't say I've seen anything in person, but he has quite a number of works using the same overlay technique--often with a more risque, or at least "vernacular", subject matter. I think he's also coming at it from more of an interest in information visualization than Khan is, but the comparison still goes beyond the purely technical. I particularly enjoyed looking at Khan's Turner postcards image with some of Salavon's Homes for Sale series. Thanks for the post, and the new blog.

The Year in Pictures said...

Joerg and Greg - Thank you for your comments. I had seen Salavon's work and was curious whether Khan had seen it, but presumed the similarity was coincidental. When you see Khan's work in person it seems fully realized and not derivative. I thought Salavon's work was both interesting and good, and obviously original given when it was done, but it didn't take me where Khan's did. I guess I prefer the cerebral quality of Khan vs. 76 Blow Jobs. But I did like the Homes for Sale series.

Russell Kaye said...


Thank you for this look-see. I don't get to Miami Basel often enough (never)

Surprised no one has mentioned Sheerie Levine - I wonder why Idris Khan's work is not as challenging conceptually as Levine.

I'd love to see them in person. Do you have any in house?


gerg werk said...

I wish I would have seen this post sooner... I am working with the same subject matter of overlaying video stills (from City of Lost Children) like Dennis Neuschaefer-Rube... unfortunately I didn't realize this technique being was already being done. For typography experiments, I wanted to see what the type looked like if I got rid of the noisy image, so I asked myself 'what other mediums deal with time'? well music. I took every line of a couple of albums and laid them on top of one another to create some interesting results. Then I found out this was already being done with kahn... seems I'm always a step behind. I then took each line and compressed it into a pixel to build letters from. My friend josh created a modular type face for which i applied the pixels to. The name of the album is made up of the lyrics from the songs. aenima and youth novels
The different type faces are chosen based on genre of music, the first one being TOOL (metal) and second lykke li (light, angelic, folk sounding).
Thanks for sharing these other artists. I hope my work can inspire some discussion as well