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Christine Borland

The velocity of drops. Copse, 2006

Photograph | C-Print
25 x 25 cm (x6)
CB.0002-
The six photographic images that comprise this series are part of a long and ongoing project along which Christine Borland has been portraying shattered and fragmented watermelons in different settings, with a description of the latter always appearing in the form of a subtitle, as in the sub-series “The Velocity of Drops: Middle Ward” or “The Velocity of Drops: Operating Theatre”. In this case, Borland has photographed her characteristic watermelons in a mysterious park or copse. The photographs in this well-known series, taken over years and to which new additions have been made in almost all of her exhibitions, always appear framed as if they were slides. They are typically presented in groups, as if each photograph were an image captured from a single narrative sequence. In fact, their narrative potential – their ability to appeal to the viewer, spurring in him or her a desire to discover the details of what happened in this place – is one of the aspects that most interests the artist. Indeed, there is a truly tragic and sinister feel about these images, something implicitly suggested in the title and its intrinsic play on words, situating us somewhere between an experiment in elementary physics and a melodrama in six movements. Beyond the formal and colour analogies that might be established between the human body and this succulent fruit, watermelons are used in forensic medicine because they offer the same resistance on falling as the human head, making it possible to establish the distance involved and the velocity with which a body hurtles into the void. Hence, “The Velocity of the Drops” is deemed to recognise the beauty that is innate in destruction, while also acting as a reminder of the qualities and vulnerability of morphology and the human condition. In particular, the motif of the cranium, the skull, has been used by Christine Borland as the central theme of a large number of her works, especially in connection with the scientific techniques of anatomical and anthropological reconstruction, as evidenced, for example, in “Mortui Vivus Docent”, the emblematic project she produced for Sculpture Projects in Münster (1997). This photographic series of “The Velocity of Drops” indubitably constitutes one of the crucial mainstays of Christine Borland’s career, presenting one of the themes that most concerns her, that of the taxonomy of death. Borland’s work requires of us that we reflect upon the ways in which life is exploited and devalued in the cold distancing of scientific research. Exploring the classical theme of mortality, on the basis of an exercise of extreme aestheticisation of violence, she produces photographs that are both seductive and full of woe.

Amanda Cuesta


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