John Divola

Clive Wearing’s Dilemma . 1990


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Clive Wearing is a renowned neuropsychology patient with no short-term memory, finding himself in a continuous present, in a continual condition of awakening. For Divola, Wearing’s case provides a possible analogy for the photographic experience, the reception of a present devoid of context. And, it elucidates the twin concerns that have undergirded his practice for the last four decades: An insistence on the indexical nature of the photograph alongside the medium’s phenomenological and existential potential.
Clive Wearing’s Dilemma features an untitled body of work made in 1990... The eight large-scale black and white photographs were made in what has become Divola’s signature mode – a combination of documentary photography, conceptual art, performance and painting – where the figure of the artist, or a surrogate for him, is often present. For Untitled, 1990, Divola painted 8 photographic backdrops in an expressionistic manner and threw handfuls of flour at them, photographing this action with a 4x5 view camera.
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